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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

All my aimless thoughts, ideas, and ramblings, all packed into one site!

Category Archives: 8-8.5/10

Fargo (1996)

Can’t ever get enough of hearing the term, “You betcha!”

A car salesman (William H. Macy) is in a tight pinch for money and needs it as quick as humanly possible. His solution? Hire two criminals (Steve Buscemi and Peter Stormare) to kidnap his wife for ransom, so that he can get the money from his very wealthy father-in-law and split it with the two criminals. Everything seems to be fine for the three and going according to plan, until people show up dead due to some tragic consequences. That brings pregnant police officer, Marge Gunderson (Frances McDormand), to the scene where she ends up figuring out just what is shaking all around her sweet, little town of Fargo.

Before I go on any further and lose more and more friends, family, fans, and confidantes than I already know I will, I just want to state this right away: I liked this movie. I can’t argue against the Coens’ artistry as writers, or as directors; the film is always entertaining, no matter how many times I actually do view it (fourth or fifth by now). That being said: It is a tad overrated.

Yup, I know. Bring on the boos.

It’s okay though. It’s exactly what I expect by now, seeing as I’ve had this opinion for as long as I can remember. And it isn’t because I enjoy going against the societal-norm because it makes me look strong, hip, and cool; it’s more just that this movie has never really charmed me as much as it has done so to everyone else.

Hey woMAN, nice shot.

Hey woMAN, nice shot.

That said, there are some little pleasures to be found in this nearly hour-and-a-half movie that still surprise me to this day. First of all, it’s the relaxed-tone of this movie that really does it some justice, as the Coens seem to throw us little, itty, bitty details every once and awhile. Just by the way in which a character looks, or does, or says something, gives you the slightest hint about what we’re supposed to think about that character, and this small town of Fargo, with its sometimes quirky, residents.

In fact, this is probably where the Coens win the most brownie-points from me, as it shows that these guys clearly love these characters they’ve created, and rarely ever pass judgement on them. Sure, they’re a bit ditsy and sheltered from the rest of the world, but they’re still happy with that. It doesn’t make them bad or good people – it just makes them people, who also just so happen to live in a place that’s very far from what some consider the “idealistic landscape to live in”. However, that’s just some people and their opinions, man.

Even two despicable human beings like the characters played by Steve Buscemi and Peter Stormare would easily be the most evil, unlikable fellows in the whole movie, and yet, there’s something about them that still keeps us away from hating them. Maybe moreso in the case of Buscemi’s character, as he seems like a guy who just gets his job done, does what he has to do, acquire his money and live a simple, carefree life like he’d done before, but even with Stormare’s character, there is still something about his quiet-demeanor that draws us to him. That’s probably what also drew the Coens to him so much in the first place, but it works more for us, as we are the ones who have to make up our own minds about these characters, and whether or not we choose to sympathize with any of them.

William H. Macy’s character is clearly the one who we find the hardest time caring for, but even his little quirks make us like him, if only for the faintest of reasons. As for Frances McDormand’s Marge Gunderson, well, we love her for being just about the opposite of these previously mentioned guys: She’s a simple, lovely and delightful lady that expects the best out of humanity, and only wants to bring happiness to the world. That set-in-stone idea that she has about the world around her gets tarnished a whole lot once she realizes that there’s some actual ugliness out there, and yes, it’s found its way into her own, safe little world that she’s made for herself. It’s hard not to feel sorry for her when she sees everything wrong and terrible about what this world can offer, but that’s what also makes it her so damn human in the first place, despite her small quirks here and there. It’s easy to see why McDormand won an Oscar for this role, as she steals the show just about every time, which was not an easy-feet, considering the talent she had stacked-up against her.

And of course, I could even say that the whole mystery itself still surprises me every once and awhile, all because certain plot-points make a bit more sense now, than they ever did before. That may be less of an attribute to this movie, and more to the caffeine I drank before watching this, but it’s something to still note regardless. The Coens love their characters and what makes them who they are, but they also still love themselves a little twists, a little turns, and better yet, a little bit of blood to be shed, all in the name of some cold, hard crime. These are the guys I’m comfortable with seeing make movies for the rest of my natural-born life, but more importantly, I would love to see them continue with the thriller-genre, and seeing how many times they can put their own creative-spin on it.

But now, here comes the time in my review where I lose all of your love and adoration, and get down to the simple fact, which is: Yes, I think Fargo is a bit overrated.

First and foremost, my problem with this movie isn’t that I’ve seen it so many times that I know everything that happened right from the get-go; in fact, that’s terribly false. There’s plenty of movies I’ve seen many more times than I can probably count, that still remain my “favorites”, even if I know every twist and turn that’s coming around the bend, all because I’ve seen said movie more than a couple of handful of times. But that’s not the point – the point is that with Fargo, I feel like every twist and turn is suitable into what gets a rush out of the viewer so much when watching it, and it just doesn’t hold-up on repeat-viewings, like so many movies I re-watch do.

Doesn't know if the wife he wanted kidnapped is dead or alive. Oh, the everyday  man's crisis.

Doesn’t know if the wife he wanted kidnapped is dead or alive. Oh, the everyday man’s crisis.

There’s small, little tidbits that are worth noting that made me smile because I didn’t notice them once before, but after awhile, I started to realize that there was maybe something a bit too odd when it came to the plot’s-structure. I love me some Steve Park, but his role/subplot Mike Yanagita, an old-friend of Marge’s, could have easily been written-out and the movie would have not suffered one bit. Sure, it’s another instance of the Coen’s making weird characters that they love, but it doesn’t do much for the movie except take us away from the actual crime on our hands; the same crime that Marge herself is investigating.

And I get it, I really do – the Coens like to do this sort of thing where they all sorts of different strands of plot that they are able to weave together somehow, through someway, but I just didn’t feel like it worked so well here. At the end of the day, when the people who deserved to be gone, were gone; the crime has been solved; justice has been served; and some life-lessons have been thrown around, I wondered: What was the point? Maybe this is just a personal problem I have with this movie, but once that anti-climactic ending came around, I had a hard time feeling wholly satisfied. Instead, I just ended my fourth or fifth-viewing of Fargo as I’ve done with any other viewing done before: It’s good, but that’s pretty much it.

Sorry, friends, family and whomever else may actually care. I truly am. Please take me back. Please!

 Consensus: Though the Coen’s clearly have a love for their characters, their story and all of the twists they throw into the plot, Fargo still doesn’t do much for me as a movie that has me thinking for days-on-end.

8 / 10 = Matinee!!

Smart idea, except for the fact that ALL OF THE SNOW LOOKS THE SAME.

Smart idea, except for the fact that ALL OF THE SNOW LOOKS THE SAME.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

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Rio (2011)

Sort of like City of God, but with birds.

After being found stranded on the side of the road, domesticated bird Blu (Jesse Eisenberg) is taken in by a simple, closed-off-from-the-rest-of-the-world gal from Minnesota, Linda (Leslie Mann). Together, the two create a lovely bond that’s stronger than what some humans have together, which is why they are almost never apart or leave one another’s site. However, one day, that idea looks to be challenged once ornithologist Tulio (Rodrigo Santoro) finds Blu and tells Linda that he needs Blu to mate and continue his species on with another bird of his, due to the fact that Blu is the last of his kind alive. Though they are both hesitant, they decide it’s for the best, even if where they end-up at is very, VERY far from Minnesota – it’s Rio de Janeiro! The party never stops, there is always excitement in the air and just about anything is bound to happen. Well, except for Blu and this supposed-mate of his, Jewel (Anne Hathaway), getting together because, let’s just say that they’re a little bit of polar-opposites. Which yes, is bad, but what’s even worse is that they get kidnapped by a local animal-smuggler looking to make a quick-buck and shipping these birds off to America, where they’ll either be some fancy person’s dinner, or sent to spend the rest of their lives in either this place, or that place. So yup, Blu and Jewel must find a way to get free, which may only be able to happen with some of the native’s help.

I have no clue as to why, but for some reason, when this movie first came out around this time three years ago, I didn’t really care to see it. Wasn’t that I don’t like animated-movies and have no soul or something, it was just that it didn’t seem like the type of movie that needed to be rushed-out to in order to see, nor did I have any of my 25 kids like I do now. So in reality, what was the point? Go to an animated-movie all by your lonesome and be that creep in the corner? Hell no! Even if I do that now, three years ago was a different time, and I sure as hell was in a different place than I am in now.

Pearl and I have a way better relationship. She's my bulldog by the way.

Pearl and I have a way better relationship. She’s my bulldog by the way.

Mentally and physically.

But anyway, what I’m trying to get at here is that the story seemed so conventional that I just didn’t think I needed to even bother to see it. And, to be honest, now actually having seen this movie, I can’t say my original assumptions were all that incorrect in the first place. The story started-off like I expected it to where this little bird got kidnapped and found a new home with a delightful, peaceful keeper, and then after that, practically every note that this film hit, has been hit a million, gazillion times before. Nothing really new, nothing really inventive. Just straight-laced, ordinary kiddie-fare that the parents get dragged into seeing, just so that they can feel as if they did something right for their kids, so that when they grow up, they don’t hate their guts and blame all of their problems on them.

Hate to break it to you parents, but either way, it’s going to happen! All kids hit that stage. Trust me. It’s not pretty, but it happens. So buy as many movie tickets as you want, because you’re not ever going to get off the hook! Hate to sound terrible and mean, but it’s the truth, Ruth!

Anyway, I realize that I am getting further and further away from the movie itself, but there’s sort of a reason: I’m in a good mood. No, not because I actually just gone done finishing Rio and I can finally move on with my life, but because it was such a pleasant surprise. See, even though the movie hit every single note, exactly like I expected it to, it never bored me. In fact, I’d say that it seemed to always have me smiling; whether it been so because of the vivid and bright colors on full-display, the witty, lovable personalities that this movie created for us to latch onto, or because at the center of the story, with rather adult-themes like crime, smuggling, and sex, there was a sweet message to be found that can do well for both the younglings, as well as the old-heads.

What this story is really about, even if I may be reaching a whole heck of a lot, is it’s telling us to never be afraid to get out there in our lives, do something we wouldn’t normally do and not over-think something to the point of near-insanity. Just let life take you as it goes, without trying to calculate every move it is that you make next. Sure, it’s good for a person to know the difference between what’s “right”, what’s “wrong”, and what’s “acceptable”, but it’s also good for a person to not hold themselves back because of some sort of fear they may actually have, or think that they have. This isn’t just a message that works well for kids, but one that also works well for the parents of these kids, which will hopefully have them feel a tad better about themselves and all of the decisions that they made.

Like I said, I’m stretching here, but there’s something endearing at the core of this movie and it deserves to be noted, because not too many animated-movies can pull that off, without stumbling on their own feet, or being not-so-subtle.

"Sheeeeeeit".

“Awhhhhhhh sheeeeeeit”.

As for the actual movie itself, like I alluded to before, it’s a fun time no matter who you are. Director Carlos Saldanha clearly seems to not only have an eye for imagination, but also a knack for keeping the excitement in the air up, even when you know exactly where everything’s going to end-up and how. It’s all so clear and predictable, but that doesn’t really matter when you have a setting as wild and crazy as Rio; the same type of setting that Saldanha uses to perfection. Also to be noted, there’s plenty of slap-stick humor for the kids, like when a group of birds face-off in a playful brawl against a group of monkeys, or like whenever Tracy Morgan’s bulldog character comes out to shake-up his goofy rump and drool everywhere; but there’s also plenty of witty humor that most of the adults may get. Although, if you’re cool, hip and happening parent like I would love to think I’ll be (even though I’ll probably start taking up drinking as a hobby once my newborn comes out and ruins my peaceful, calm life), you’ll laugh at just about anything and everything this movie does.

And with the voice-cast, everybody is fine as everybody seems perfectly-suited for their own respective characters, as zany and wild as some of them may be. Jesse Eisenberg is good as the dorky Blu, as you could suspect knowing that Jesse Eisenberg is playing anybody; Anne Hathaway is charming, and gives you the impression that she’s just so pleased with herself while talking into the microphone doing this; Jamie Foxx and will.I.am. play, what are essentially, the goofy, black sidekicks who come around, teach Blu how to make on the ladies, sing most of the songs and just basically crack jokes as if they were two old geezers sitting-off on the side of the road, just commenting on every person they see walk by, whether they like them or not; Jemaine Clement is great as the villain bird that’s always getting the upper-hand; and George Lopez does a great job at being both the voice-of-reason, as well as the father-figure as Toucan. Yup, everybody’s fine and adds just a little bit more spice to a movie that clearly doesn’t need much more to be satisfying.

Consensus: Can definitely be seen as predictable, but Rio can also be seen as a pleasing, fun, exciting and beautiful-looking movie that makes just about anybody who watches it, happy. Especially if they aren’t expecting much going into it, like yours truly.

8 / 10 = Matinee!!

Moral of the story: Don't be such a wuss, go flying!

Moral of the story: Don’t be such a wuss, go flying!

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Mistaken for Strangers (2014)

Little brothers, right?

Indie rock band the National have been recording, touring and rocking the meager-sized, hidden ballrooms of the world for the past 14 or so years. Most of the cool kids who listen to them, love and adore the hell out of them, and usually credit lead-singer/song-writer Matt Berninger for making them feel that way. What’s strange though, is that while the rest of the band is made-up of two-sets of brothers, Matt is the only lone wolf of the group. However, he does have a brother; the kind of brother he’s a little hesitant to even speak about. And when you meet him, you’ll sort of see why. His name Tom – he’s over-thirty, a bit of a bum, he doesn’t really care for indie music at all, listens to heavy-metal Christmas tunes from the lead-singer of Judas Priest, paints strange-looking portraits of dismembered limbs, and occasionally, makes movies. But the problem with Tom isn’t that he isn’t a talented guy, it’s just that he is constantly living in the shadow of his much more famous, more successful, older-brother. But older bro Matt sees some potential in little bro Tom, so he decides that it would be best for him to come along for the tour that the National is embarking on, where he can highlight the band, be a roadie and not try to fuck everything up. That’s definitely easier said then done, but Tom refuses to give up on this documentary, even when it seems like all of the signs are telling him to do so.

A generally misguided preconception many make about rock-docs (or for lack of a better term, “rockumentaries”) is that in order for one to enjoy them, one must know and already be a fan of the band/artist/talentless-hack, that the documentary is in fact about. In some cases, this is true (Metallica: Some Kind of Monster), but in other cases, not really, especially when the band is about as unknown or as bizarre as the band you and your buds tried to “break big” with while practicing in your parent’s garage from 2:30-4:15, before either of them came back and found out that you were playing the devil’s music (A Band Called Death).

Resemblance? Eh, facial-hair I guess.

Resemblance? Eh, facial-hair I guess.

However, with Mistaken for Strangers, you don’t have to do either to enjoy it. Sure, it may help if you know one song by the National, or at least know that they’re part of that early-21st Century, infusion cool, indie bands from NYC that were so prevalent when everybody started turning on N’SYNC and Britney Spears. Either way, it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that you know how it feels to have a family member in your life that you care about, love and wish the best for. It doesn’t matter if it’s a brother, sister, mother, father, daughter, parrot, ancestor you feel these emotions for; all that matters is that you have these emotions for someone in your life.

If you don’t and you’re just a lonely, angry and anti-social human being who is incapable of having any feelings whatsoever, then I’m sorry, but you may not like this movie. However, if you aren’t that type of person, then you’re going to come pretty close to loving it. Kind of like I did, although, oddly enough, in an act of my inner-fan coming out, I would have liked an actual documentary on the National themselves. But hey, you can’t always get what you want, right?

By the way, that’s not a National song. That’s the Rolling Stones, for any of ya’ll that need some music-knowledge out there, yo!

Anyway, where this documentary really struck a chord with me is in how much it had me thinking about the relationship my little bro and I have, and how it sort of connected to the one of Matt and Tom Berninger’s. No, neither I, nor my brother front a popular, alt-rock-ish band, but we do have problems with living up to the expectations that our parents had made for both of us. During the early years of my life, due to my height, weight, size and affinity for eating an unhealthy amount of cheese-steaks, I was expected to be a rough, tough and masculine football player, much like my dad was. No, they didn’t expect me to become a pro and become the white version of Lawrence Taylor, coke-snorting off of hookers and all, but they wanted me to try my hardest and really work at this dream they had set-out for me, which I did my best to achieve and not let them down.

As for my little bro, they expected him to be the white version of Usain Bolt, minus the hormone-injections. When he was younger, he was fast as hell man, and he was pretty ruthless son-of-a-bitch too, that never stopped breaking his back for whatever it was that he wanted. In a way, he’s sort of still like that to this day, even if all he does is lift for hours-on-end, flexing and lip-syncing to Rick Ross simultaneously.

Anyway, where I’m trying to go with this is that, as you could expect, one of these dreams were not fully achieved. In case you need any more further clearance on who that person was, it was me. Yes, believe it or not, in my spare-time away from DTMMR, I am not sacking QB’s, intercepting passes, or partying like it’s the XFL all over again; I’m sort of the guy most of you probably perceive me as being, an entertainment-junkie that loves to write, read, listen to music, and on occasion, go outside and get a nice farmer’s tan. As for my little bro, he sort of went the same path; he stopped running, and instead, focused more on his studies, his abs-of-steel and how many creative-ways he could tell my parents to “fuck off”.

Oh, what it was once like to be young, rebellious, and full of all sorts of angst.

Though neither him nor myself really talk about it much, there is some feeling that the other sibling has a little bit more to live up to than the other. I would like to be fit as much as him, whereas he would definitely like to be a little bit more into what’s going on with the world, in terms of music, movies, celebrities, or what have you. We don’t resent each other because of that, we just know that there’s some competition and tension there. Then again, that’s just how brothers are; it’s not a bad thing, or a good thing, it’s just a thing. As plain and simple as day.

That’s why when I saw Tom and Matt’s relationship – how the older one clearly believes in the promise the younger one holds – I couldn’t help but feel some sort of connection. Not to say that I believe, one day, my little brother will become somebody who sits on his ass and reads movie news each and every day of his life, but I do believe there’s ways in which we can both help each other and live up to whatever set of ideals we have for one another. It’s a weird, and a bit hard to spell-out here, but that’s only because it’s a thing us O’Neill brothers have. Sorry if you ain’t with it.

But in the case of Tom and Matt, you can see that they both love each other. Even though Matt is definitely all cooped-up with his band, his wife, his kid and his career, he still has time to encourage Tom and doesn’t act like he isn’t even there. In fact, throughout most of the movie, we actually hear and see Matt sticking up for his little brother, even when that said little brother is in actually being a fuck-up, getting blitzed when he’s not supposed to and putting his camera in too many’s people’s faces. Hell, they even share the same hotel rooms throughout most of the duration of the tour! If that doesn’t scream “brotherly love”, I don’t know what will!

Umbrella in the middle of Prospect Park. So indie.

Umbrella in the middle of Prospect Park. So indie.

Okay, maybe the city of Philadelphia, but that’s besides the point.

Both of them, Matt and Tom, are generally likable guys. Matt is as pretentious as I expected him to be just by listening to his music, but he never comes-off like a “dick”, which I think was very important into how this documentary is viewed. And as for Tom, well, he’s a bit of a goofball. Actually, correction, he’s a total and complete goofball. However, he’s a total and complete goofball, that is endearing and the type of guy we can get behind, even when he seems to just be stupid, for no apparent reason, other than to just be stupid.

Actually, one of my main problems with this movie is that seeing as how he directed and made this movie his own-self, I can’t help but feel like he was putting a show on a bit. Not just for his brother and the rest of the band, but for the movie itself. He asks dumb questions to other members of the band, that always seem to revolve around his big brother Matt, and even when some of them do have the heart to answer the poor numskull’s questions, he cuts them-off and instead, says his peace. I felt like a bit too much of that wasn’t sincere and it was just his own way of messing around with the movie, and putting his own stamp on it. Which, yes, makes sense since this is his movie, his documentary, which also happens to be about him and his brother, but sometimes a little bit too much of it can only go on for so long.

Eventually though, Matt and Tom’s relationship comes more and more into play as we see them come together and try their hardest to connect to one another, even if they are a bit different in terms of personality and general-tastes. However, they are blood brothers. And what usually comes with blood is love, devotion, care and the idea that no matter how many times you two may fight and get disappointed with one another, you’re still family and you gots to stick together. If that doesn’t strike a chord, I don’t know what will, you lonely, angry and anti-social human being.

Consensus: Being a fan of the National as is, doesn’t affect whether or not you like Mistaken for Strangers, an effective, and relatively emotional documentary that touches on the strong bond that is between family members, particularly brothers.

8 / 10 = Matinee!!

I think we can all relate to having to bail-out a family member in the middle of a swarming crowd.

I think we can all relate to having to bail-out a family member in the middle of a swarming crowd.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBCollider

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

Get your head out of the past, man.

After being brought back into the world, only to find out that he’s in a new millennium, where mostly all of his friends, families, confidantes, anyone he’s ever known, is dead, Captain Steve Rodgers (Chris Evans) decides to lay low in his nice, cozy life in Washington D.C. He’s made a new friend in the form of Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie), he stays in shape, he saves the day when it needs saving and hell, he may even start getting busy with that fine-looking nurse neighbor of his (Emily VanCamp). Sounds pretty ideal, right? Well it is, but it doesn’t last. Somehow, he, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), and a handful of other good-hearted citizens, all end-up involved in a huge conspiracy with the head-honcho of S.H.I.E.L.D., Alexander Pierce (Robert Redford), where apparently just about every which person is out to kill them. It’s pretty nerve-wracking as is, but it gets even worse when a certain masked, hired-assassin named the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) starts rolling around town, blowing shit up and trying to kill whoever gets in the way of his targets. But what’s so weird about the Winter Soldier is that he seems to hold a very close resemblance to a man Cap once knew. A man he never thought of to be alive, but somehow, seems to be in the form of this walking, talking hitman.

By now, I think we all know that no superhero movie, let alone a Marvel superhero movie, that doesn’t either consist of more than one main superhero on the same screen, for a longer amount of time than a simple cameo or end-credits scene, is not going to be better than the Avengers. It just won’t. And it’s not because it’s hard to accept these superheros as individuals, with their own battles to overcome, and adventures to journey, but the bar has been raised so high now, it’s just not capable of handling. We have seen mostly all of the best a superhero movie could be, and for that, we are better as a society. May not be better for these stand-alone, superhero movies, but hey, at least we know that Age of Ultron is coming out next year.

"No, I was serious. Does he look like a bitch to you? Cause I sure as hell can't see him!"

“No, I was serious. Does he look like a bitch to you? Cause I sure as hell can’t see him!”

So, until then, we have plenty of time to just wait around, kick-up dust and have our time with these stand-alone flicks, in which we get to see most of the same magic, fun and wittiness play-out like the awesome spectacle that was the highest-grossing movie of 2012, but still realize that it’s not quite as magical as we have seen done before. Hate to keep on harping on that, but it’s the truth. It’s just the fact of the matter. Doesn’t make these types of movies bad or anything, just not nearly as great as we have seen before.

But away from that, and more towards the actual film itself: The Winter Soldier is pretty rad. With the other Marvel Phase II movies we got last year with Thor: The Dark World and Iron Man 3, this one definitely seems to be the darkest, most serious one out of the whole bunch, but that still doesn’t take it away from being fun, if not more so on some occasions. Actually, much rather than being a “fun” type of action-blockbuster, because the suspense and the drama is so heightened this time around, a lot of it begins to just feel “tense” and “exciting”. Sure, there’s plenty of winks, nods, jokes and playful banter we usually see from these types of movies, but there’s still a whole lot more going on here like political-intrigue, mass-destruction of a society, genocide and the media.

Yup, it’s all so very serious and in ways, a lot darker than it should be, however, the movie barely ever misses a note with what it is trying to do; as long as what it is trying to do is be fun, exciting and as loud as it can possibly be. When it begins to shy away from that aspect of the story, you can tell it bites-off a bit more than it can clearly chew. For instance, the first 20 or so minutes of this movie, I had no idea just what the hell was going on. I knew that S.H.I.E.L.D. was clearly up to no good and being as sneaky as they could possibly be, but whatever plot the writers were trying to set-up here, made no absolute sense.

And it wasn’t like it didn’t make any sense because I’m a big dummy (which I am), but because it seemed like the movie itself was just packing itself with so much dense exposition, that it really didn’t seem to want to make sense. The clear synopsis of this plot, and also why there are baddies we hate, and goodies we cheer for, would be that it’s just a simple tale of a company owner not being too happy with his workers, so, as any smart, powerful businessman would do, he decides to have him, his friends, his family, anybody he’s ever loved, killed right away. That’s pretty much the basis for the whole story in a nutshell, however, it not only took me nearly a half-hour to get to that point, but it took the movie even longer as well.

That said, what eventually happens with this movie is that once it decides to stop being so damn melodramatic and confusing, it gets very wild and energetic, but in a good way. It’s strange that we’re getting something that clearly could have been released in the summer and not suffered at all, but hey, who am I to complain about a Marvel movie being released one month before the official start of summer?

Also, why would I complain about getting to see the lovely, delightful faces of such darlings like Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan and yes, even Samuel L. Jackson? I’m nobody, that’s who!

May have been an inspired-choice to cover-up most of his face, but you also run the risk of leaving plenty desperate, horny housewives disappointed.

May have been an inspired-choice to cover-up most of his face, but you also run the risk of leaving plenty desperate, horny housewives disappointed.

Speaking of these cats, as you could expect, they all do fine. Evans shows us more and more reasons why should want to see him play Cap for the rest of all humanity, even when his body’s rotting and deteriorating, while in his late-90′s; Johansson does a lot of that punching, kicking, and pistol-shooting as Black Widow, while also looking extremely well in tight-leather and heating things up with the awfully-flirty chemistry her and Evans build; Mackie is a nice-addition to the cast as Sam Wilson and shows everybody else once again why it is that his bright, and smiling face should be in every movie, ever made; Sebastian Stan does a lot, without doing much, playing the Winter Soldier, but that’s about as much as I’ll say about that; and Samuel L. Jackson, you know, does his thing where he yells, acts like a bad-ass and sets some people into their place as Nick Fury, in a role that’s just Samuel L. Jackson with an eye-patch and a fancy-looking gun. That’s really all he is.

Now, except for the mention of Stan as the Winter Soldier, there’s some new villains here that I think really do work well in this universe, and especially in this movie. Which, yes, means a whole lot when the only, actual villain worth anybody’s time in your universe is the same guy who switches sides more times than Michael Stipe at a music festival. Bad analogy, I know, but if you know rad music, you’ll get it.

Robert Redford is a great addition to the cast as Alexander Pierce, the type of sinister, back-stabbing and ruthless corporate bighead we’d usually see him play-against. Redford doesn’t do movies of this size or stature much too often (hell, he doesn’t even do movies in general), which is why it’s so great to see him show-up here, chew-up the scenery, has some fun being the baddie and get his paycheck like he should. Same goes for grade-A character actor Frank Grillo, who almost never ceases to let me down, even when he shows up in some real crap. Even UFC fighter Georges St-Pierre gets his kicks in (pun intended) as Georges Batroc. Now, if only he’d be able to do the same when it came to getting in the ring with Silva and not being such a chicken-shit, whiny baby, then yeah, maybe I’d have more to say about him. Come on, men! Am I right!?!?

Consensus: One of the more serious entries into the Marvel Universe, Captain America: The Winter Soldier doesn’t always know what it wants to do, but when it has its head on straight and just allows the exciting, fun-nature of this material take notice, then it’s definitely worth your time.

8 / 10 = Matinee!!

Even from the back, he's still got that charm. Whatta stud.

Even from the back, he’s still got that charm. Whatta stud.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Noah (2014)

Thought he’d need a bigger boat. Guess not.

I don’t think I really need to state what this movie is about, but in case those of you out there have either been living under a rock for the past one million years, or just don’t pay attention to anything at all in the whole, wide world, here’s the plot: Noah (Russell Crowe) is a descendant of Seth, which means he is one of the very few nice men in the world that doesn’t eat meat, doesn’t kill when he doesn’t have to, and loves all things that are beautiful with the world. He loves nature, he loves his wife (Jennifer Connelly), his family and most of all, his God. So much so, that when he has a vision in his dreams that the world will be destroyed one day due to a huge flood, he decides to take matters into his own hands and prepare the right way. What is “the right way”, you ask? Well, that consists of building a giant-scale Ark that will hold two of every animal species known to man in order to have all of them continue on and live, even if the world itself is totally wiped-out. Things for Noah and his whole family seem to go fine, that is until Noah gets a little bit crazy with what it is that God actually wants him to do, against what it is that he thinks he should do.

As predicted, there’s been a lot of talk surrounding this movie. Many Christian-advocates have stood-up, said their peace about this flick and even though they haven’t necessarily been totally against it, per se, they definitely haven’t given it the glowing pass of approval neither. So basically, this movie may offend you, but then again, at the same time, it may not. It all depends on how in-touch you are with your faith and whether or not you actually want to see a full-length, feature-flick about a dude who built an Ark to preserve life for the rest of humanity.

Personally, I don’t want to see that kind of movie. But if Darren Aronofsky is directing it, then count me the hell in!

"Guess you didn't get the memo about '80's glam-metal hair-styles only', huh?"

“Guess you didn’t get the memo about ’80′s glam-metal hair-styles only’, huh?”

And if anything, the idea of having Darren Aronofsky direct this as a certain “passion project” of his, is definitely the most intriguing-aspect behind this flick. You’d never expect the same kind of guy who gave us scenes like this, or this, or hell, even this, to be so willing and dedicated to give his own, in-depth version of an as-old-as-time story that’s only about a few paragraphs or so long. But with Aronofsky, you can never, ever tell what his next move is going to be; whether it be what movie he decides to direct next, or what he actually does in his own movies, the guy is totally unpredictable. However, in today’s day and age of cinema, we need that, which is why when you get a Darren Aronofsky movie, it doesn’t matter what the subject-material is or how it’s going to play-out in terms of who it’s for – all you have to know is when, where, what time and if you’re able to see it right away!

As you can probably tell, I was very excited for this movie, just judged solely by who was making it and to be honest, that’s probably what kept this movie going for me. It seemed strange in the first place that a major-studio would actually back a biblical-epic directed by Darren Aronofsky in the first place, and seeing the end-result, it’s apparent why I had those ideas in my in the first place. Like all of Aronofsky’s movies, this is downright beautiful; from the visuals, to the amazing, sometimes over-wrought score from Clint Mansell, to even the biblical-imagery that doesn’t hit you over the head, but is able to make you understand what message it’s trying to convey, everything was given the right attention of detail it needed to seem like an actual story from this time and place, rather than just a cheap dramatization we’d get on the History Channel.

Even the actual story here, which Aronofsky clearly took plenty of liberties with, seems like something he’d do; the main character of Noah, here, has an obsession over doing what God wants him to do, even if it does make him absolutely insane. In fact, where this movie really gets interesting is when Aronofsky sheds a light on how Noah either does or doesn’t take God’s demands or ideas about saving humanity and getting rid of those who don’t deserve to live, as understandably as he should. In any movie, directed by anybody else who didn’t have nearly as bright a mind as Aronofsky, this message could have been handled terribly and even offend some out there, but what Aronofsky does is just show a character finding himself in a bit of a bind as to whether or not he should do exactly what he thinks God is telling him to do, or act as he should, a moral human being. Instead of seeing Noah as a Saint that did everything right, for every person around him, including God, we see him as a man that struggled with his faith, with the situation he was thrown into and how all of the pressure was thrown onto him to not only preserve these animals, but keep those around him alive and well, knowing that they’d die soon, and possibly even be the last ones alive on Earth.

Pretty freaky stuff, but I guess when you got the big G.O.D. backing you up, it doesn’t matter.

But as interesting as most of the things that Aronofsky does with this material, I still can’t help but feel as if a bit too much of it is over-blown beyond its means. For instance, Noah, as almost every epic, is nearly two-and-a-half-hours, and it feels like so. That isn’t good, not because long movies shouldn’t exist, but because this one feels unnecessarily long, when only a good hour-and-a-half of this movie is really worth seeing. Everything leading-up from when Noah has these dreams of the apocalypse, to when he actually gets the Ark up and running, is exciting, tense and exactly the type of viewing-experience I expected to have with something on this grand-of-a-scale.

"But in all seriousness though, honey, I'm fucking craving a hamburger. We gotta get rid of the pigs."

“But in all seriousness though, honey, I’m fucking craving a burger. We gotta get rid of the cows.”

However, all of the energy of this movie seems to fade out, slowly but surely. I don’t want to say where this story goes and how dark it gets, but it seemed like Aronofsky felt like he really needed to allow this movie to play-out as long as he possibly could, so threw in all sorts of subplots he could. This not only has it seem like it’s meandering and taking its good old time to get to a finale, but doesn’t really know where it’s going to end-up – much like Noah and the rest of his family on this Ark. I was still interested in seeing where this movie would go, but after awhile, I began to wonder if that moment would ever come around, and if it did, would it actually be satisfying, or just rushed and too safe for its own good.

Somehow, it placed somewhere in the middle, but I can’t say I was all that disappointed where it did go and end. Doesn’t offend too many people, but still keeps it a bit edgy and hard-hitting for those who want some deeper-meaning out of what they see here.

And of course, before I head-off into the sunset, I do have to give some credit to the cast for at least trying with what they’re given, as timid as some of it may be. Russell Crowe is perfectly-cast as Noah, showing all sorts of grit, manliness that makes you seem his as the type of guy you don’t want to mess with when it comes to the apocalypse, but also enough compassion to where you can sort of see that he’s a sweet guy behind the huge muscles and supreme fighting-skills. It was also nice to see Jennifer Connelly back in a movie with Darren Aronofsky, and actually get some worthy-material that has her shed those skills more than a few times, particularly in a scene where she basically tells Noah to wake up and snap out his crazed-daze. And as usual, Anthony Hopkins is a fine-addition to the cast as he brings a lot of fun, light and humor to a film that seemed so serious and over-blown most of the time. And he does it all by wanting berries!

Didn’t see that part in the original source-material, but then again, it’s been a long time since my Vacation Bible School days.

Consensus: While the first hour-and-a-half packs a exciting, tense and epic-punch that Darren Aronofsky is clearly able to deliver, the remainder of Noah does seem to meander and have no clue where to go, which may be more of a problem with the studio that helped produce it, rather than the creator himself, but it’s still a noticeable problem nonetheless.

8 / 10 = Matinee!!

"ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED, YOU DIE HARD CHRISTIANS YOU?!?!?"

“ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED, YOU DIE HARD CHRISTIANS YOU?!?!?”

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Commando (1985)

Why did we have a war going on in Afghanistan in the first place? One simple phone call to the Governor’s office in “Kellyfornia” and that would have been all. Stupid Americans.

Retired, Elite Commando John Matrix (Arnold Schwarzenegger) lives a small, quiet, and uneventful life with his daughter (Alyssa Milano). He has that for some time, that is, until a herd of baddies show up at his door, blow the place up to pieces, kidnap his daughter and order him to assassinate a major political figure in Cuba, in hopes that he’ll get his daughter back. All in one piece that is. However, John Matrix isn’t one for following the rules, especially when his family is thrown into the mix, and decides to get rid of that whole plan altogether, and go back and kill each and every one of those baddies – one-by-one, bullet-by-bullet.

I don’t think it takes a genius to know this, but the 80′s was the go-to decade for these types of corny, dumb, over-the-top action movies. Not because the decade itself was corny, dumb, and over-the-top (at least not the one in the middle), but because these movies were bad. However, they knew they were bad and asked you to just take them for what they were, and not expect too much. Nowadays, that’s a little easier said then done, especially in the world today where we have shaky-cam, Bourne movies, and PG-13 gore-fests, but back in those days? Man, it sure as hell helped to be an adrenaline-junkie and have an IQ of 48, and this was just the crown-jewel of them all.

Arnie's family days, pre-housing-maid incident.

Arnie’s loving, and caring family days, pre-housing-maid incident.

And who else better to be the ring-leader in it than The Governator himself, Ahnuld?!?! Here’s what’s interesting about this flick though, that not many people really care to think about: This was one of the first tastes that America really, really got to know and love Ahnuld for all that he was. Of course he had Conan the Barbarian and the Terminator to his name, but neither flick really gave him a chance to show what else he could do in front of the camera, rather than just show off his guns and be a bad-ass. This time, he would actually be given a little thing in the movie industry we like to call “dialogue”, and as terrible as it was, Arnie handled it like a champ and then some.

But then again, everybody knows to expect this from an Arnold movie, hence why so many people loved the hell out of the Last Stand (despite not bothering to actually pay much money and see it), but this was the early days of Arnie-Mania, and nobody knew what they were really getting themselves into. Sure, they saw an Austrian man who delivered his lines as if he was reading off of the cue-card he was handed, and sure, there’s not much to his ability as an emotional wrecking-force that could stretch his character anymore than he already needs to be; but does that even matter when he’s as charming and as lovable as Arnie is? Seriously, the guy’s jacked-up beyond belief, and scares the daylights out of me just by a simple glance. But you can tell that he knows what type of movie he’s in, and knows that they don’t depend on him to do much else other than just be goofy, have fun, and kick some ass.

All of which he does here, and to the sheer-splendor of our eyes.

But Arnie aside, the rest of the movie is what makes it so much fun, and considered the perfect example of what “so bad, it’s good” actually means. Everything that this character, John Matrix, does, is completely idiotic and could never actually happen in real life. Yet, at the same time, you don’t care because you’re having so much fun just watching this guy pick up telephone booths; dodge every bullet that comes by him; utter terrible lines like “I let him go”; and take out a whole army camp of fake-mustached men, that also happen to be out-ranking him about 100 to one. Yes, you can probably expect what’s going to happen next to these “fake-mustached men”, and what’s going to happen to Arnie, but you don’t care how silly or predictable it is. It’s fun and stupid, and downright knows it is. It’s not demeaning, it’s just the typical, 80′s action-fest that practically put the large, Austrian weightlifter, on the map. Thank the heavens for that!

Eh, I've seen bigger.

Eh, I’ve seen bigger.

However though, that said large, Austrian weightlifter, with the exception of the incredible amounts of explosions, gunned-down people, and corny one-liners thrown out all over the place; is sadly, the best thing the movie has going for itself. Dan Hedaya camps it up as the Cuban, wannabe-politician, and Alyssa Milano is nice and pleasant to watch in her younger-years (and I don’t mean in that way, you pervs!), but everything else about is so bland, that it actually brings the movie down, as if that was even possible in the first place. Who I’m basically referring to is Rae Dawn Chong, as the sidekick/supposed love-interest of sorts for John Matrix, who gets all wrapped up into this story out of sure luck and coincidence about 20 minutes in, and is fun and vapid for the time we watch her. That’s for a good couple of minutes we actually meet her, because after that, we realize that she’s going to be in the rest of the damn flick and that there’s no way of getting rid of her. Well, that is unless John Matrix himself turns into a uncontrollable sociopath and goes on a complete rampage, killing everybody and anybody who’s around him. I wouldn’t have wanted to see that, but considering how annoying and terrible Dawn Chong was here, I was praying for it more than a couple of times. But thankfully, no matter how bothersome this chick was, Arnie and his grenade-launchers were there to save the day.

Oh, Arnie. What would the movie world be without your mispronunciation of names and knack for kicking ass?

Consensus: While it is ungodly stupid, nonsensical, ridiculous, and campy, Commando is also a flick that deserves to not be taken seriously, and enjoyed solely as an action movie that knows no limits, or laws of physics for that matter, either. It’s the old-school Arnie we love to see and it’s made even better knowing that this is where he got his real start from.

8 / 10 = Matinee!!

"I'm back." That's literally what he says.

“I’m back.” That’s literally what he says.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBCollider

The Fountain (2006)

Next time I decide to watch this, someone remind me to smoke a crazy amount of weed.

The plot is confusing, but I’ll give it a go anyway. Modern-day scientist, Tommy Creo (Hugh Jackman), loves his wife (Rachel Weisz) and wants nothing more than her love and her life to be there with him. However, she has caught a very serious case of cancer and is starting to fade away. In the meantime, she gives him her book that she wrote, which tells the story of a 16th Century conquistador, finding a Tree of Life where sap that grants you everlasting life is lying somewhere in there. While this story is going on, there’s also another where a man from the future, chills out in a bubble for reasons I can’t totally specify right now. Just watch and you’ll see.

I’d be a friggin’ fool if I sat here, wrote about how much I knew exactly what this flick was about, and told you that I’m the highest-mofo there is on the totem-pole. Because, honestly, let’s face it: I’m still not a 100% sure I know everything about this flick. However, I know enough (roughly 80%), so I’d say that’s worth some credit, right? Well, either way, this flick is still a bit of a head-scratcher but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist or astrologer to get what the hell this flick is all about. Just know this: It’s a movie that’s about a guy trying to save his slowly-dying wife, from, well, dying. If you know that, you’re good and probably a lot better off than most people who probably walked into this back in the days of 2006.

Also, another pointer before watching this film that may or may not judge how much you like this flick is that it’s directed by Darren Aronofsky. Yes, that Darren Aronofsky. So, there ya go. Two pointers for the price of one review. Continue to read if you’d like. If not, sit down, shut up, and see what the hell I gots to say.

Thanks for sticking by if you’ve gotten this far. Really do appreciate it.

It's what they call: burning love. Geddd it.......

It’s what they call, “burning love”. Geddd it?!?!?

Anyway, what makes this flick such a mind-teaser is because even if you do feel like you have it known, from beginning to end, there’s still probably one or two scenes that may throw you off your grind and have you re-think what it is you just came to the conclusion with. For some, that may annoy the hell out of, but for others (such as yours truly), it works and makes the film more worth the watch and wait. It’s what makes it special in the way that it doesn’t is that it can be taken in in many, different ways; but no matter where your mind wanders or what type of philosophical babble you may speak about with your hip and cool friends at PBR-tasting parties, you still can’t get past the fact that this is a story about a man, who is trying to save his wife. It’s a story that’s been done to death by now, but given the ideas and themes that Aronofsky presents, it takes on a whole, new meaning.

Since the flick takes place in three different ways, you never know what is true, what’s really happening and how it affects the actual people you think you’re watching. All you can know is whatever you decide to believe in. Sounds stupid, I know, but using your noggin is mainly what these types of movies are made for. To see this couple go through their ups and their downs, is not only beautiful, but warms your heart as well. That’s why when everything starts to turn sour for them, you really feel it and get right behind them, in hopes that everything will work itself out. However, that’s just not the hand that life deals ya sometimes.

That’s why watching this touched me. Granted, I wasn’t crying myself to sleep after I saw this, but the themes of everlasting love, doing whatever’s in your will-power for the one you love, and never losing hope in the face of doom, really resonated with me. Not saying that I’ve ever had to deal with anything quite like that, but the feelings of having to go through such situations and crises as that, resonated with me. You can tell that this story came from a real soft-spot in Aronofsky’s heart and as much as he may focus on the look, the visuals, and the hypnotic score, the story is what really keeps it grounded in a sense of reality and drama, no matter how loose the ends may get.

Speaking of the way it looks, it’s downright beautiful. Apparently, the story behind this movie is that not only did Aronofsky had to delay this for about a whole two years, but also had to cut-back on the budget as well. Supposedly, it went from $70 million, to $35 million, and yet, this is what they came up with. To be honest, I’m shocked that the studios let Aronofsky get away with this, but better yet, I’m wondering just how the man got it to look like that at all. It’s a beauty of a film from start-to-finish and feels more like a bunch of moving-images that capture your eyes, as well as your wonder. Even if you hate this flick’s story because you have no idea what’s actually going, at least you can feel at peace just gazing at the masterful artwork on-display here. Beauty of a film, if I’ve ever seen one.

However, I still can’t sit here and lie as if I know it all about this flick and also say that it’s the masterpiece some have made it out to be. For me, as much as I didn’t mind the story, the ideas, the themes, or the direction, I still feel as if this was made by some kid who got way too high one night, sat down, got a whole bunch of paper, found a typewriter and decided to pen a script about all of the mind-bending jumble he came up with and thought was as smart as the dickens. No offense to Aronofsky, because the guy’s got what it takes as a writer, but some of this feels like it’s a bit too big for even his own ambitions, and a lot less in the mind-set of coming up with something all of us can understand in one, simple language.

Like that scene from Spider-Man 2. Except with more under-lining themes of love and immortality. I think.

Like that scene from Spider-Man 2. Except with more under-lining themes of love and immortality. I think.

I know I may sound like a total and complete brat who can’t handle movies that challenge my sense of thought, but some of this is overly-ambitious. Hell, I’m still wondering if it all makes sense and I don’t know if that’s a knock against him for his pretentiousness  or me for my own stupidity. Either way, not everything will touch you and it sure as hell will have you confused, which is why I think Aronofsky could have toned things down a tad bit more than he did. Then again, maybe I just needed to be one of those kids that got way too high.

Because then, I would have seen the world for all of it is. Man.

The only people apart of this movie who didn’t seem to inhale one ounce of them special-stogies, were it’s two stars: Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz. Both are amazing, but both attribute so much in their own, separate ways. Jackman is amazing in this role because no matter what suspicious activities he may try to pull off to pull his own ego, we know that he’s a good guy and would do anything for his wife, even if that meant putting his own life at risk. Within the past couple of years, we have all come to know and appreciate what Jackman’s been able to do as dramatic-force, but here, he really steps up his game and has us reel and feel for a dude that seems to deserve our sympathy. But he never begs for it, and that’s why this guy is so good at playing it straight and laced-up.

Weisz is also amazing in this role because she gets to show everybody why the hell it is that we love her so much, and what makes her character worth caring for. Not only is she a nice person, but she’s a very pleasant person that seems to want the best for her and her hubby. It’s a shame that her and Aronofsky aren’t together anymore, because if anything, it seems like he really knew how to film her and make her look as beautiful as she always seems to be. I’m going to miss their pairings. But who knows, maybe time will settle and they’ll reunite one more time. That’s if, James Bond backs out of the way. That sneaky, little devil him.

Consensus: Will most of you out there understand The Fountain from start-to-finish? Hell to the no! But will most of you at least get the general idea of what it’s trying to say, without understanding why? Probably, yes! It’s a very good movie that may bite off a bit more than it can definitely chomp down on, but Aronofsky’s ideas and themes, resonate with any person that has either loved someone, been loved, or cared for a person, ever in their life. If you’re not that person, just watch Requiem for a Dream. Then, you’ll smile and appreciate life, you heartless wretch.

8 / 10 = Matinee!!

"Look at the stars, honey. They remind me of life, all of it's beauty, and how we should live our lives. You know?"

“Look at the stars, honey. They remind me of life, all of its beauty and how we should live our lives. You know?”

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderComingSoon.net

Pi (1998)

My favorite kind is pumpkin, how ’bout yours?

Max Cohen (Sean Gullette) is a mathematical genius that may, or may not be crazy and imagining things. Okay, there’s actually no question about it! He is going crazy and imagining things, but he doesn’t know that yet, nor does anybody else around him. However, what does aid him in this state of absolute craziness and non-stop paranoia, is the fact that he’s able to count and predict numbers in daily-routines. He even believes that he can predict the patterns in the Stock Market and make billions and billions of dollars. However, eventually, others begin to catch onto him, or so he thinks. For some reason, he has a bunch of neighbors that can’t seem to mind their own business; a overly-friendly rabbi who constantly bothers him at a local coffee shop to talk numbers; an old friend/confidant of his (Mark Margolis) that warns him of the dangers of getting into your own head a bit too much; and a suited-up, business-lady of sorts that is always calling him and finding him on the streets, in the subways and right outside of his apartment. So basically, it’s Max versus the world, or at least that’s how it all may be playing out in his head. You never know!

That’s not the most perfect synopsis ever summarized for this movie, but you get the idea: Dude’s smart, dude’s crazy, dude’s paranoid, bad stuff happens to dude. It’s a premise we’ve all seen done a million times before, but what sets this movie apart from the rest of of those other flicks about basket cases, is Darren Aronofsky’s highly-stylized direction. See, back before he gave us asses-to-asses, killer ballerinas, or even Noah’s ark, Darren Aronofsky was just another young, Jewish kid from New York that wanted to make movies and wanted to make his presence known.

Hasidic Jew-paranoia. Can't say I've ever been there, but why not!

Hasidic Jew-paranoia: Can’t say I’ve ever been there, but why not!

So, of course, what better way to do so then have your whole movie filmed in grainy black-and-white, crazy editing-tricks only seen in certain music videos at the time, and have a heavy-electronic score done by the one and only Clint Mansell! And while that aspect of the story may separate from the millions and millions of others, it isn’t like the style takes over what should be substance. Because while Aronofsky definitely does show the many tricks up his sleeves that he has, he also realizes that in order to push a story forward, you have to be able to trust your audience that they’ll be paying attention, using their brains whenever possible, connecting the dots and, if worse comes to worse, be taking notes down on whatever piece of information they may see as “pertinent” to the story, and what might not be.

Because of this trust between Aronofsky and the audience he clearly is making this movie for, it’s easy to see why one person would get mixed-up in it all. Hell, even yours truly, a person that was strung-up on two cups of coffee by the time of watching this, even got lost on a whole bunch of clues/hints/ideas/whatever-the-hell that was thrown my way. That’s probably less of a complaint about the movie, and more of a problem I just have a silly, stupid, cheese-burger-loving human being, but so be it! I’m not always up-on-my-game, I tell you!

Anyway, Aronofsky keeps this movie moving at a nice pace where you don’t always have enough time to make sense of everything that’s happening, nor do you quite allow all of the details of this story sink in just yet. You sort of just have to roll with the punches, and see exactly where it is that Aronofsky ends up with this story, and where he takes all of his characters. Needless to say, it’s a crazy adventure that definitely doesn’t take it easy on you, much like Aronofsky’s other movies that would soon follow.

Which is, yet again, another aspect of Aronofsky’s movies that worked so damn well here, as well. His style may be overbearing, but I think that’s the point. In order to racket-up as much tension as humanly possible for a pseudo-intellectual thriller that runs just under an-hour-and-a-half, Aronofsky throws whatever the hell it is that he can at us. Certain scenes in this movie seem like dreams that linger on in to the territory of being nightmares, which is all because our protagonist, Max Cohen, is just a total and complete nut-job. Although it should definitely be said that he’s a sympathetic one, if only because we truly feel bad that a guy such as him would be subject to so much mind-fuckery that it’s insane. Also, Sean Gullette does a nice job at making this a guy we can believe both as a weirdo, as well as a guy that can be nice and normal, if his mind and his habit of number-crunching allows him to do so. But most of all, what makes him so damn watchable is that we’re right there with him for the whole adventure he’s taken on.

Tio lives! Better yet, he speaks!

Tio lives! Better yet, he speaks!

Everything he sees, we see; everything he hears, we hear; everything he feels, we feel; everything he thinks, we think. Why? Well, it’s all because we are inside his mind the whole entire movie; which is both a good thing, as well as a bad thing.

It’s good, because it constantly throws us for a loop every time we think we have this story all completely figured-out; but on the flip side, it’s not-so-good because the dude is clearly crazy and doesn’t always have the right idea about whatever is in that thick head of his. Therefore, since we’re seemingly placed inside of his mind, lounging on a spec of his brain, it’s never clear where this will go, why or with whom. It’s all up in the air, and I think that’s how Aronofsky wants it to be, if all because he knows that sometimes, these types of stories can end in such predictable, obvious ways. Good on his part for not letting it be so, since this could have easily just been another case of a first-timer getting a bit too big for his britches. Even if so, it’s done him well in the 16 years since. That’s for sure.

Consensus: Easily one movie to throw any smart and determined viewer for a loop, Pi is the type of movie you can’t expect to get, but at least pay enough attention to that you understand just enough in order to feel like you’re along for the psychological thrill-ride Aronofsky loves having us be aboard for.

8 / 10 = Matinee!!

I would say "don't do it", but by the same token, he does make a pretty good case for why "he should". So who am I to stop someone from doing what they clearly want to do?

I would say “don’t do it”, but by the same token, he does make a pretty good case for why he “should”. So who am I to stop someone from doing what they clearly want to do?

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBCollider

Muppets Most Wanted (2014)

Oh, those Muppets. So hip, so meta, so cool.

It has finally happened! The Muppets are back and more popular than ever! The only difference now is that they don’t quite know what to do with all their popularity, that is, until booking-agent Dominic Badguy (Ricky Gervais) walks into their lives and gives them an offer they can’t refuse: Come along with him, go on a world tour, sell every place out and sooner than later, they’ll be rich, famous and cool all over again. But, the only problem here is that none of the other Muppets know about what Dominic is really up to, which concerns breaking into art galleries all over the world, finding buried-treasure and becoming even more rich than ever before. Also, there is another part of the plan that consists of Kermit getting mistaken for a villainous thief known as “Constantine”, because they look exactly the same, although the latter does have a mole on his face. Either way, the switch-up happens and when Kermit is thrown into a Russian prison, the rest of the Muppets are left with nothing else to do but to just get on with the show and hope for the best, even if they do notice that something rather strange is going on with the “new” Kermit.

To clear things up right away, I absolutely loved and adored the hell out of the latest Muppets movie that came out some odd years back. Not only was it a return-to-form for those lovely puppets I grew up watching and knowing throughout all of my childhood, but it reminded me just how hilarious they actually were, despite me growing up a little bit. Their jokes were a lot more self-knowing, smart, witty, and even, dare I say it, meta. It showed me that the Muppets weren’t only here to stay, but that they could easily continue to have me smiling, laughing and having a great time with them, even as I got older.

For once, Ricky Gervais doesn't know what to say.

For once, Ricky Gervais is left speechless.

Heck, I even watched that holiday special they had with Lady Gaga and RuPaul a couple of months ago!

Anyway, that’s why when I was going into this, I expected to have the same bit of fun I had with the last movie, while still remaining a bit skeptical. Why? Well, because with the first movie, it seemed like there was a lot more at-stake. We hadn’t seen the Muppets pop-up in much for a very long time, nor did we get a movie of theirs for a whole ten or eleven years. So basically, the first movie was created as a tool as to see if these puppets were still popular, or, better yet, could even make some money for those powers-that-be. Thankfully, the movie did both! But that’s why I remained a little weary of what this movie was going to do and if it wasn’t going to stick to its guns like the latest movie did. I felt like they were probably going to try all that they could to strangle a laugh out of us and probably end-up straining themselves in the process.

But somehow, this wasn’t the case here, although some of my fears did come true here, if only a wee bit.

What I think works so well here, as it does with practically anything involving the Muppets, is the humor. It’s the type of humor that works for any and all ages. There’s the older, more-knowing jokes suitable for the more mature crowd; as well as there’s plenty of those slapstick jokes where characters are falling down, blowing stuff up and hitting each other over the heads with whatever they can find, for the younger crowd. It all works very well and barely ever lets up, even if most of those “thoughtful” jokes do, and will, go over most of those younger kids’ heads. Not saying so in a condescending way, just saying that it’s something that you have to expect with a Muppets movie. Or anything involving the Muppets whatsoever.

The next best aspect of this movie is definitely the music which seems like it only gets better the more and more you think about certain lines of lyrics. Sure, there’s nothing along the lines of “Man or Muppet” to be found here, but for what it’s worse, most of the tunes heard here are funny, well-written and better than most of the other crap you hear on the radio nowadays. I mean, seriously, who in the hell is “the Glitch Mob”!??!?

And I guess you could consider the cast to be the next best aspect of this movie, mainly Ty Burrell as a French Interpol inspector that works with Sam the Eagle on this whole big mystery of a plot and is always competing with him as who is the better Secret Service agent. Also, they battle it out on whose badge is bigger, which is a running-gag that never seems to get old. Burrell is probably the only who is more lively and energetic than some of the Muppets here, if only because he has the goofiest, showiest role of them all. Whereas Ricky Gervais and Tina Fey, despite the latter sporting a heavy-Russian accent, don’t really get to do much other than try their very few hands at being funny and holding believable reaction-shots with a bunch of puppets. That’s not taking anything away from Burrell at all, because he truly was hilarious to watch in a campy, over-the-top way. You know, the way you should be when you’re in the same frame as Ms. Piggy, or the Swedish Chef, or especially Kermit himself.

Okay, sure. I guess if the sight of Hornswaggle is a "Spoiler", than whatever.

Okay, sure. I guess if the sight of Hornswoggle is a “Spoiler”, than whatever.

The cameos themselves are all fine and dandy, if totally and completely random. However, that’s exactly what these movies live-off of. Some of the people who show up I’m scared to even give away or spoil, but just know, a few of them will absolute stun you and make you wonder just where the idea of putting this particular person the movie came from. Not all of them are great, but more often than not, they’re pretty strange, but in a good way that the Muppets are always known for featuring.

At the end of the day with this movie, I find myself being totally ecstatic about it, and then, other parts of me find it hard to remember it as perfectly as I did with the first movie. I guess that’s my fault for stacking 30 years of Muppets movies up against one another, but then again, I don’t think it is. As a fan, I think it’s alright to shine a light on the past, and see exactly where the franchise is going. For now, I’m content with the Muppets being around and making us laugh, but still, I hold a little hesitance in my heart, as I know that there could quite possibly be another Muppets from Space, just around the corner. Let’s just hope that’s just another case of me talking out of my backside, and not the harsh, brutal truth.

Consensus: As usual, Muppets Most Wanted assures that our favorite, lovable puppets are still funny and able to make us have a great time, although it is clear that some of the magic is fading away. If only some of it is.

8 / 10 = Matinee!!

That "Walter" guy is still around? Meh!

That “Walter” guy is still around? Meh!

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Dogville (2003)

Always keep a lookout on those small villages.

One night in the sleepy, quiet town of Dogville, Tom (Paul Bettany), the self-appointed town spokesman, hears a gun-shot, followed by a woman arriving in his town a couple seconds later. Her name is Grace (Nicole Kidman) and she’s on the run from her mobster daddy (James Caan). Whatever the reason may be, Tom does not worry about and hides her just in the nick of time. Now that Grace is hiding out in this small town, she’s going to have to hold her own in order to stay away from the authorities, as well as not piss off any of the town-folks themselves. Grace tries to do whatever she can and at first, everything seems pitch perfect for her to be there. But once Grace starts messing up a bit and the authorities continue to breath more and more down the town’s neck, well, then the peeps themselves start to get a little wacky and wild with Grace’s presence being known and felt, and it’s Grace who ends up on the bad end of things.

The whole gimmick behind this whole film is that it all, with the exception of maybe one scene, takes place in this small town. However, the small town of Dogville isn’t what you’d expect it to be or look like. In a way to make the flick look like a stage play on screen, or to also cut down on production-costs, writer/director Lars von Trier designs the set where you can see everything, without any walls, doors, or blockades separating us from these characters and denying us the access of seeing all that they do. On top of that, the flick is also filmed with a digital-camera, which made it seem more like I could have filmed the same thing with me and my buddies. So yeah, it’s a bit hard to get used to for about the first ten or so minutes, but mind you, this is a near-three-hour flick, so take into consideration that for at least ten minutes, you may be a tad bit uncomfortable with what’s going on.

A window?!??!? First rule of von Trier-ism broken already!?!??

A window?!??!? First rule of von Trier-ism broken already!?!??

Then again though, this is a Lars von Trier film, so for those whole near-three hours, you might be uncomfortable the whole way through. And trust me, you shouldn’t be ashamed to feel so because it’s what the dude excels in the most, but here, something feels different about it all. First of all, I loved how von Trier set this story up in a way to make us feel as if we are right there in the middle of this town, right from when Grace pops herself in, to the end where the town has been practically turned inside out. It works because as the hysteria and panic within this community begins to swell-up and lose all of control, we feel the same emotions as well and it becomes a hard film to get through on many levels. One of those levels being that von Trier never strays away from showing us some dirty, messed-up stuff that he’s been planning in his head for quite some time. But like I said, something feels different about it all this time.

See, rather than feeling exploitative and provocative, just for the sake of being so, there’s a point to von Trier’s madness: To convey fear. The movie jingles on that idea every once and awhile, until the final ten minutes rolls up and takes it to the extreme, but it works because it’s so very true. Coming from a human being as well, it’s very hard to admit because this flick is inexplicably making fun of how humans react to a little bit of change, in a way that makes them go mad or insane. We, as a society, all feel the need to continue to go on with our days, the same way as if they were the way before. However, once a little diversity in that day comes around to shake things up a bit, then we lose our grips of what’s acceptable behavior and what isn’t.

I would totally like to go into a little more detail and explore why I have came to this conclusion that I have, but only going on further would spoil the movie and have you expect the unexpected, which is not what this flick is all about and surprisingly, may take the fun out of it all. I can’t say that the flick is “fun” per se, but it’s a challenging piece of work that asks you to reflect on your own minds, your own ways and your own style of living, but also asks that you take note of the next time you feel fear. How do you respond to it? Do you act irrationally? Do you keep your place in check and not lose sight of what’s really meant to be fearful of? Or, do you do nothing? The flick goes more and more in-depth with this idea than it should, but I have to say that for once, watching a von Trier movie and seeing all of the ugly stuff that he pulls out of his rump and having it all make sense and cohesive to what he’s trying to get across, I was satisfied. I was emotionally torn-up, but I was also satisfied with what von Trier brought to the forefront, to make us take a look at. It may not be something we want to even acknowledge is present in our lives, but it’s always there. Von Trier knows this; I know this; hell, everybody knows this!

You can’t escape it, because fear will always be there. No matter what.

There’s probably more themes to shake a stick at here, but this is neither the time, nor the place for me to do so. Maybe when I’m in my superficial, artsy-fartsy film class next semester, but as for right now: I have a movie to review, and performances to praise. Main one being the one from Nicole Kidman as Grace, a name that sticks so perfectly with her act and the final conclusion this flick comes to meet. Kidman’s always been a knock-out actress, there’s no questioning it. She’s always been able to take a role, however crazy or simple it may be, do whatever she wants with it, and always give us a performance that knocks all of her other ones out of the park. However, I wouldn’t have been surprised if people were a little skeptical about whether or not Kidman would be able to handle von Trier’s style or treatment of his characters, especially the female one.

"And so kids, that's what the ending to Antichrist means. Or so I think."

“And so kids, that’s what the ending to Antichrist means. Or so I think.”

However, all those skeptics can kiss Kidman’s firm-behind because she does an amazing job as Grace, giving us a performance that’s more physical than emotional. And no, that’s not me being a dirty boy. Kidman has those expressive, beautiful eyes that are able to convey any sort of emotion – whether it be sadness, forgiveness, regret, vulnerability, love, or happiness, give her an emotion to express, and she’ll do it ten times better than you’d ever expect her to do. She’s just an amazing actress, and despite her character being a bit too repetitive and weak-minded, Kidman pulls through and gives us a three-dimensional character that we care about, not just because of all this bad stuff happening to her, but because she’s the only one with a bright head on her shoulders.

Everybody else here seems to be a bit too crazy for their own good, with the exception of Paul Bettany as Thomas Edison, the philosopher and free-mind thinker of the small community that takes a liking to Grace right off the bat. Bettany’s always been a quality actor and even though I feel like his Southern-accent was a little suspect, the guy still gives us a good character that seems like he has all of the right intentions one person could want or need; he just doesn’t know what to do with them or how to show them in a way that could be suitable for both Grace and the rest of the community. Sometimes, both aspects don’t ever seem to come together, but you have hope that he’ll do the right thing no matter what, even if he does get a pushed-up against a wall many more times than one.

The rest of the heavy-stacked cast is very good too, even if nobody shines brighter than the other. They all do wonderful jobs, but it’s Kidman’s and von Trier’s show for the taking, and they won’t let you forget about it, either. Not even when the credits show up, which are some of the darkest, but hilarious credits I have ever seen scrolling in my life. Seriously, try to watch them without cracking at least a chuckle or two by the irony. The end.

Consensus: As with most of von Trier’s movies, Dogville is most likely going to be a hard pill to swallow for some, but once you get by all of the dark sexuality and titillation of the material, you’ll find yourself surprisingly compelled and interested in what von Trier has to say, whenever he gets to that breaking-point.

8.5 / 10 = Matinee!!

No wonder why everybody's so cranky and mean: No toilets!!

No wonder why everybody’s so cranky and mean! There’s no toilets!!

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderComingSoon.net

Dancer in the Dark (2000)

When life blows, just sing avant-garde tunes.

Selma Jezkova (Björk) is a Czechoslovakian factory worker who struggles with life, but is trying her best to make the best of what she has. She loves and adores Hollywood musicals and how they put her into this new world, where happiness, song and dance is abound. But the reality is pretty harsh: Not only is she losing her sight, but she knows that her son will soon, too. This is why, with all of the money she earns and receives from both work and her neighbors, she saves up in order to make sure that her son can get a surgery on his eyes when he turns 13, just so that he doesn’t have to go through the same eye-sight problems that she’s having. However though, things in Selma’s life begin to go very, very South and eventually, she finds herself in a bit of a pickle, where she can only rely on her friend (Catherine Deneuve) and that’s about it. Well, her, and also, her daydreams where she places herself in a modern-day musical, where she, and whoever else around her, are the stars of the show.

I bet by just uttering the name “Lars von Trier”, people already know what to expect from a movie of his. However, a musical? I don’t think that thought would ever cross into anybody’s minds when thinking of von Trier, however, this is the same kind of guy that likes to surprise his audience, keep them on their tip-toes and not give them what they want, and be satisfied with himself.

And she thought signing autographs was bad enough!

And she thought signing autographs was bad enough!

And if what it is you want is a positive-thinking movie, about happy people, doing nice things for one another, then you’re definitely in the wrong part of town, folks. This is Lars von Trier for Lord’s sakes – the guy who isn’t afraid to put his foot in his mouth in public, nor is he afraid of what the MPAA may have against his movie’s content. He’s a balls-breaker, but best of all: He’s a story-teller, and no one should ever forget that.

Like I mentioned before, you’d never expect someone as drab and as downbeat as Lars von Trier to make a movie in which light, fun and upbeat musical-numbers come completely out of nowhere, but then again, they aren’t really the kind of musical-numbers you’d usually see in something like Grease, the Sound of Music, Mary Poppins, or anything else for that matter. The purpose these musical-numbers serve is that they give the lead character, Selma, an escape from the nightmare her real life becomes. They give her life new meaning and allow her to look on the bright side of things, even if the fact of the matter is that her life absolutely sucks and is only going to get worse from there.

That’s why, as jarring as it initially may be to see von Trier’s characters moving around, dancing, signing and performing as if they were on Broadway, you get used to it after awhile. Also, you realize that the reason why von Trier has these frothy-notes included here is more to poke a bit of fun at the way Hollywood makes light of all of life’s brutal, harsh realities; much rather than applauding Selma’s daydreams as being images that help her get by in life, he looks down on them with a cold, dark and satirical scowl, while still showing that they are needed for her and her life. In a way, he’s almost satirizing Hollywood’s love of the musical, in all of its lovely, delightful-form, which is why it’s sometimes funny to see how over-the-top and how out-of-place these musical-numbers can be and show up in.

However, they all serve a purpose, and that is to blur the lines between what is real, and what isn’t.

And though I want to get very much into detail about where this story and how dark, disturbing and truly terrifying it gets, I can’t help but steer clear from that, due to the fact that once I’ve said one big reveal, I’ve said too much. Then again though, by knowing that this is a Lars von Trier movie, you can already tell that while the story may start-off simple, easy and relatively peaceful, it only continues to get worse, and worse, and worse over time, where people act and behave in disgusting ways. Disgusting ways that, mind you, are exactly what von Trier loves to discuss and show in his movie; he believes that this is the way in which the human-condition actually is, and doesn’t shy away from showing just how evil one person can be, when push comes to shove. I don’t know if I myself, fully believe in von Trier’s juxtaposition, but I do like how he embraces this fact with his characters, and how he shows them in all lights – positive, negative, realistic, etc.

Which is why I find it so hard to have any problems with his movies, especially this one, because while I do realize that these characters are supposed to be written in a humane, fully-dimensional way, I still can’t help myself but to hate most of them. Yet, at the same time, still understand them and the reasons behind their actions. Take, for instance, David Morse’s performance as the neighbor who spends time with Selma, confiding in her and, sometimes, even trying to push her into giving him some money, in order to support his wife, as well as make sure she won’t leave him when she finds out he’s broke. It’s no surprise that Morse is great in this role, but what really surprised me was how this guy was supposed to be painted as something of a “villain”, yet, he’s actually somewhat sympathetic because there’s a connection in the way his choices and decisions are so drastic, that you can tell they come from a deep place in his heart. We’re not supposed to like him, nor are we supposed to empathize with him because of how much of a evil dude he turns out to be, but somehow, it’s hard to hold so much anger towards him.

Don't mess with her too much, pal! We all know what happens when somebody messes with her too much....

Don’t mess with her too much, pal! We all know what happens when somebody messes with her a little too much….

Same goes with just about everybody else in this flick. Peter Stormare plays the kindest character of the whole movie, a guy named Jeff who, obviously likes and wants to be Selma’s boyfriend, although he goes about it in a creepy, stalker-y way; Catherine Deneuve clearly cares and loves Selma for the gal that she is and supports her through thick and thin, but does put her nose where it doesn’t belong most of the time and comes out looking a bit like a dummy; Cara Seymour plays Morse’s character’s, shopaholic wife, who wants to believe that Selma is a nice woman, but also doesn’t want to hold anything against her husband for going about his business in a sneaky way; and even Siobhan Fallon Hogan, who shows up at the end as a prison-guard, doesn’t act like the butch, angry-as-hell woman she appears to be, but instead, turns out to be a woman who cares deeply for Selma, during her time of grief and sadness. All of these characters look, feel and sound real, even if their actions don’t always make us happy with them. Yet, we still see where these said actions come from.

But of course though, I saved the best for last with Selma. I think for anybody that knows who Björk is, knows that her music is a little bit strange, or better yet, “of a certain taste”. However, for one thing, she is a musician, and never in my mind, did I ever imagine her as an actress; a very good one, at that. There are some parts in this movie where you can see that Björk was probably left to fend for herself with this movie and with this role, which probably has to do more with von Trier’s style, but it works so well for the character of Selma, in making her a sweet, natural woman that cares for people and believes that all humans are inherently good, yet, makes some unsympathetic choices.

However, like I was speaking about before, they are all choices that come from a brutally real, honest place in her heart and soul, which is why it’s so surprising to see how great Björk is here. Sure, when she’s wailing around, singing and dancing about how grand and beautiful life can be, she’s stunning to watch, mostly because she’s in her element. But, when she steps out of those scenes and has to do more like emoting, she’s even better, which makes you wonder why she hasn’t acted in barely anything since. Sure, von Trier’s directing probably took a huge-toll on her, but what Björk does so well here is that she creates this wonderful, simple lady and gives her so much to work with, even when life seems to consistently be disappointing for her. Which, throughout the last-hour of this movie, it totally does. However, Selma keeps her hopes high, he standards for what it means to be “human”, her smile, her good-will, and most of all, her singing, dancing and daydreams about the perfect, Hollywood musical playing out in her head. Is that a good thing, or a bad thing? The answer is up to!

Consensus: As usual, like most of Lars von Trier’s movies, Dancer in the Dark continues to get disturbing, just as it story begins to develop more, but what really keeps it moving at a fine, thought-provoking speed is the performances from everyone involved, and the attention to detail von Trier gives every single one of his characters, no matter how reprehensible some of them, as well as their actions, may be.

8.5 / 10 = Matinee!!

Seriously. How could you have a problem with that face? I mean, just look at it!

Seriously. How could you be mad at that face? I mean, just look at it!

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBCollider

Le Week-End (2014)

Paris: The place old people go to boink when in desperate need of doing so.

Aging, rusty couple, Richard and Meg Burroughs (Jim Broadbent and Lindsay Duncan) decide that their marriage needs some more spice and excitement thrown into it. So, instead of just spending time at their boring house, with their pot-loving, they decide to spend their 30-year-anniversary in Paris for a little weekend. Both think that this will be a great, opportune time for them to catch up on things, get to chat about some problems they’ve been happening, get drunk, smoke some ciggies, run around town, go to fancy restaurants they clearly cannot pay for, and, if at all possible, get a chance to make some sweet, olde lovin’. However, all those good and fun plans they had originally planned, sort of go right out the window once they begin to fight and unearth some mean, nasty feelings they’ve had for one another for quite some time. Even worse, things get mixed-up when Richard runs into an old friend of his (Jeff Goldblum) and gets invited to his nice, cozy-pad for a little get-together. If they thought things were bad when they were just with each other and nobody else, they don’t know what’s going to happen when they have to be ar0und others in a peaceful, civil manner.

Right from the beginning of this movie, something hit me slap-dab in the face and made me think of this whole film in a different light: Richard and Meg Burroughs, despite being 15 years older and British, reminded me exactly of Jesse and Celine. I think anybody who has seen this blog more than a few times, knows that I love the Before trilogy and love the couple of those two star-crossed lovers that just so happened to meet on that one, fateful day on that train-ride to Paris. So, that’s why when anything, anything at all, comes at me and resembles them in the slightest way, I automatically go crazy and can’t help but compare the two.

It's okay. They're in love, so it cancels it all out, right?

It’s okay. They’re in love, so it cancels it all out, right?

But, being that this is in fact a movie about two different characters, in a different movie, I have to take them for what they are and who they are. Just something I guess I should have pointed out, you know?

Anyway, on with this movie and these two lovers!

Movies about old people either falling in love, or trying to rekindle the spark in their long-lasting marriage, is always a movie that’s easy to win people over. Most of the time, it depends on the talent that’s involved with it, but other times, it all depends on the viewer themselves, and whether or not they can relate to these two older people and all their love and whatnot. It’s not hard for me, despite being quite the youngin’, because I know what love feels like, it’s universal; so any story, no matter who it involves whatsoever, that is about love and its lasting-form, always touches a soft-spot with me. Sometimes, like in the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, it can be a bit cloying and totally throw me off my guard, but in this case and with this relationship, I couldn’t help but love these two together and be happy that they’ve been together for so damn long.

See, this is the type of movie that wholly depends on the natural chemistry/performances from its leading-stars, and here, Jim Broadbent and Lindsay Duncan are perfectly cast and give this material all that they’ve got. Not only does it help that they seem like the type of married-couple that’s been together through the thick and the thin, but also because they seem like real people that wouldn’t have a problem with getting a little freedom thrown their way, but also know that they can’t quite live on the same without their loved-one in their lives.

Take, for instance, the character of Meg (aka, Celine in 15 years): She’s the type of woman that seems like she’s so fed-up with life and having to answer to certain people or things, so instead of just waiting around for life to pass her by as she continues to get old and closer to dying, she’s decided that she’s going to live it up, like an everlasting party. She runs through the streets, walks-out on a restaurant-check, gets drunk, smokes cigarettes, messes with her husband’s affections and overall, just have a great time with this weekend and make the most of it. Reason being? Well, because she knows that once this weekend is over and she’s back in Britain, that it’s time to go back to regularity, where boredom can never be escaped out of.

Of course all of the decisions she makes aren’t the best – at one point, she tells her hubby about how she’s going to go out with some guy and catch a couple of drinks, when it’s clear that he doesn’t want to hear that (then again, what loving, adoring and dedicated husband would??!?!), but you can tell that her life-loving spirit comes from a genuine place in her heart and what makes her a person. She’s not a perfect woman, nor is she a perfect wife, but Duncan plays her so damn well, that we almost never think of her being a bad, dishonest wife, or even one that you yourself would cheat on; but instead, you see her as a woman that just wants to live life, for all that it is and all that she is.

Look at him! Gotta love that mug!

Look at him! Gotta love that mug!

But it isn’t like Duncan steals the show and gets away with it, because Broadbent himself is damn fine as well. He makes us see the type of hubby that is always there for his wife, loving her, supporting her and wanting to be the best man for her, but still can’t seem to be able to catch-up to her and her forgetful ways. You feel bad for the guy, but you know that he loves her, she loves him and that they are great together, when they’re happy. When they aren’t, things get a bit messy and dark, but in an understood-way that isn’t just thrown in there to create some sort of drama. Instead, it feels honest, raw and real, as if we are watching a real-life couple, right in front of our own eyes.

The only time that the movie really seems to lose its flavor, or emotional-core for that matter, is by the end when the family gets to Jeff Goldblum’s character’s house for the a little shin-dig. Goldblum, as usual, is hilarious and as perfect as you could get, but I couldn’t feel like his character and his story was a little tacked-on; as if the movie just made the character for Goldblum, because the guy had some time set-aside out of his schedule. No problem with that really, because having Jeff Goldblum in your movie, is definitely a heck of a lot better than not, but it did take away from what really seemed to matter: Meg and Richard Burroughs. Nonetheless, they’re a great couple, seem to really, truly love one another and just by watching them, you won’t be able to help how many times your stomach gets all warm inside. It’s just inevitable. They’re old, and they’re in love. Everybody feels for that at least one time in their lives.

Consensus: Though we’ve all seen this story done before, Le Week-End still taps into that everlasting idea that love, no matter how damaged it may get over the years, with whichever person it may be, is always there to stay, in a sweet, sometimes too-honest way.

8 / 10 = Matinee!!

Just saying, but Jesse and Celine, there's your future. Just saying!

Just saying, but Jesse and Celine, there’s your future. Just saying!

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBCollider, ComingSoon.net

Mr. Peabody & Sherman (2014)

Most of the knowledge you’ll ever gain in your life comes from your dog. Screw cats!

Mr. Peabody (Ty Burrell) is, well, yeah, he’s a dog. But he’s a dog that’s capable of all sorts of things most dogs aren’t capable of doing: He can talk, learn, read, travel in time, dance, sing, play any instrument known to man, drive, and hell, even raise a kid. This is where Sherman comes into his life and, despite him not being a very conventional father-figure for such a young boy, decides to adopt a small boy named Sherman (Max Charles), who was left all alone in a basket one night. Peabody gets clearance from the law to adopt Sherman and be his legal-guardian, enabling him to teach him everything he knows. For the most part, Sherman an Peabody get along splendidly, however, things are going to get a bit more complicated for them now that Sherman’s going to start going to school and being around other kids, where he’ll most likely be subject to a lot of teasing and pestering. Why? Well, because all kids are evil and if your dad’s a dog, well, you’re kind of asking for it. Anyway, one thing leads to another and Sherman gets lost in time with a little ship called “The Wayback Machine”, prompting all sorts of wacky and goofy hijinx to ensue where all sorts of historical-figures get in on the action.

I’ve never watched the original Peabody animated-shorts, but from what my old man tells me, their funny. That’s all, really. That’s actually all I had to work with when it came to this movie, which is why I decided to take him and see if this movie shit all over his childhood like those horrendous Smurfs movies have done.

They aren't walking the right way. Geddit?!?!?

They aren’t walking the right way. Geddit?!?!?

Needless to say, he was pleased. But most importantly, I was as well. Which, if you think about it, is all that matters, right?

Okay! I know. I’m just kidding. Love you, daddy.

Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that I didn’t have much high hopes going into this, and for once in awhile in a long, long time, I went in and came out unexpectedly happy. With most animated movies, they run a very fine-line to where they can be either Pixar-heavy, crying-for-days lite, or just light, ordinary, bring-your-fam-squad-out-for-a-good-time lite; very rarely does one go in between, or, even if they do try, they fail miserably. But somehow, through those creative mofo’s at DreamWorks Animation, things actually work out quite well, even if they are juggling around a bit.

See, what works so well with Peabody, is that it never tries to hammer us over the head of what message it is trying to get across. It’s quite clear that by setting this in the present day, with current themes, ideas and norms, that the movie is trying to tell us that it doesn’t matter if your guardian is a dog or a human, all that does matter is whether or not they treat you right, make you feel special, inspire you and give you all of the common-knowledge in the world that you need to know in order to grow up and be all that you can be. The movie throws that idea out every so often, but it never feels preachy, mostly because Peabody and Sherman themselves, as characters and as a father-son duo/combo/relationship/something, are so well-done that you almost forget about the whole “talking-dog-fathering-real-life-human-being”-aspect of the story. And yes, done anywhere else, that would have been creepy as hell.

I’m not going to keep myself any further from not making a mention of this, but when I saw this sequence in this movie, I knew it was the real deal. About half-way through, the movie shows us, through a sweet, heartwarming tune and various, eventful flash-backs, the life that Peabody and Sherman have built with one another. What’s so nice about it isn’t that we get to actually see how Peabody found and was able to adopt Sherman in the first place, but how much they both matter in each other’s lives, all done in a way that’s played backwards, if to show us how all of their constant time-traveling and history-learning has affected them both as people, as well as knowledgeable people. I know I’m maybe harping on this part a bit too much, but I think it deserves to be. Not only did it get me fully in-tune with the rest of this movie, but it made me tear-up like I haven’t done so in an animated movie in quite some time.

Not until, well, you know. Oh, gosh! Shouldn’t have even posted that link! Crap!

The next "white Hendrix", if there ever was one.

The next “white Hendrix”, if there ever was one.

Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!!!

And like I said before, right after that sequence, the movie really picks up and all of a sudden, not only do we care about both Peabody and Sherman, but also the adventure they are thrown in. But the adventure only adds more to the whole story, as it not only teaches us a bit more about family-values, but also a teenie, tiny bit about history, in its own funny, pun-y way. Speaking of which, the humor may not always work, but when you have a kids flick that features at least two or three poop/fart/bathroom-jokes, and you are still able to get a laugh from yours truly, then you’re golden pony boy. The kids of course will love the jokes and just how many times people slip, fall and almost nearly die, but the parents will also be able to appreciate that there’s some humor in there for them as well, without totally abandoning the kiddies. Aka, the same type of kiddies that parents will most likely use as an excuse to see this with, just so that they can see if their childhood has just received a huge turd on its chest from a bunch of billionaires.

The parents will also be pretty darn happy to see that both Peabody and Sherman are voiced well by both Ty Burrell and Max Charles, respectively. Burrell is obviously attuned to this type of deadpan, sarcastic humor with his stint on Modern Family, and it’s clear that it doesn’t matter in what form he’s delivering it in, he’s still pretty damn funny and able to make everybody laugh. Same goes for Max Charles, sounding how a spirited, happy and energetic seven-year-old should sound like. Good job, kiddo! There’s also some other neat, little voice jobs by the likes of Leslie Mann, the almighty Stephen Colbert, Lake Bell, Patrick Warburton, Stanley Tucci, and even Mel Brooks, if you can believe that! Nice to see the man back, even if we never do see him and just hear his voice. Still, it’s better than no Mel Brooks, that’s for sure!

Consensus:  Part family-tale, part adventure, and even part history-lesson, but ultimately, Mr. Peabody and Sherman is animated-fare that’s meant for everybody, especially the parents who may be curious to see if their childhoods are ruined or not. Spoiler alert: They aren’t.

8 / 10 = Matinee!!

A boy and his dog, clogging up traffic during rush-hour. But oh, the bonding.

A boy and his dog, clogging up traffic during rush-hour. But oh, the bonding.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Jane Eyre (2011)

Relationships were so much simpler when people weren’t just boning each other all of the time.

Jane Eyre (Mia Wasikowska) is an orphan growing up in 19th Century England who doesn’t always get along with everybody around here. That’s why, one day, her evil auntie (Sally Hawkins) sends her to a tough-as-nails boarding-school, where she is taught how to act around people, be lady-like and just not bust people’s balls, like Jane is most known of doing. Once Jane gets out of this boarding-school and finds herself starting her adult, professional life, she’s assigned as governess for a young French girl at a nearby estate. The girl’s father, Edward Rochester (Michael Fassbender), is also the master that employs Jane and is a bit of a troubled-fellow. He’s got a bit of an anger-issue, has some deep, dark secrets and definitely doesn’t seem like he’s capable of handling himself in public situations, and yet, he is somehow able to connect with Jane. Together, they talk, walk through beautiful landscapes and, slowly but surely, begin to fall in love. However, things get a bit more complicated once Jane finds out something about Edward’s rocky-past, as well as her own.

I don’t feel like I’m alone when I say that I automatically cringe hearing about a new period piece. No offense to anybody who likes those sorts of things, but they just aren’t totally for me, unless they are done in some sort of fast-paced, interesting and fun way. That almost never, ever happens, but I hold-out hope that I do get one of them, one of these days.

My apartment complex is bigger. Just sayin'....

My apartment complex is bigger. Just sayin’….

Anyway, that’s the exact reason why I wasn’t looking too forward to watching Jane Eyre, a story that it seems like everybody else on the face of this planet knows, except for, you guessed it, yours truly. Then again, I’m a movie-junkie and I have to give any movie a chance, which is what I’m really thankful for here.

See, something strange happened here with me and this movie: Not only was I interested in this story right from the beginning, but I found myself oddly surprised as well. Most of the opinions people have about 19th-century period-pieces is that they are sometimes so royal, so stuck-up and so damn boring, that they can’t help but be slow and let us know that this is how the times were back in those days. However, it seemed like director Cary Fukanaga knew that he wanted to tell us this story, but not harp on the minuscule, meaningless details.

Right from the start, as soon as we find out that Jane has had a pretty shitty childhood, things pick up and automatically, we are thrown into this place in time that not only feels real, but still relevant in our day and age. Sure, the themes of love, acceptance and feminism are everlasting and will more than likely stand the test of time, but what Fukanaga does here so well is that he shows us that not all period-pieces have to be time-consuming, regardless of if they are moving at a snail-like speed. He gives us a story, he gives us a setting, he gives us characters, and he even throws in a bit of a mystery, that somehow goes along perfectly with the real dilemma on our hands here: The love-dynamic between Jane Eyre and Edward Rochester.

Considering that I haven’t read the novel, like the lazy, Y-Generation-er that I am, I don’t know if this dynamic was as strong, or as tension-filled in the book, as it is here, but Fukanaga really nailed that aspect down perfectly. We get the idea that these two people are perfect for one another and, had they been alive today in the present-day, would be together today, walking hand-in-hand, frolicking through the streets. But, seeing as this is the older days when class and wealth was more meaningful than actually having a life, it makes sense why they find it hard to be together, or accept the notion that they should be together. Any other movie would have this whole idea be stretched-out into a two-hour cock-tease, but here, Fukanaga continues to add on emotion, after emotion and give us the impression that they might just get together, despite what others would whisper about them.

They’re not necessarily star-crossed lovers that nobody wants to be together, it’s just more of the fact that they don’t know if they should, or should not be, and it takes us for a ride. Also, a lot of that has to do with the fact that both of these characters were well-cast with Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender. Everybody knows, and loves the hell out of Michael Fassbender by now, so it’s honestly no surprise that I say he does a great job Edward Rochester – a guy we never know if we can fully trust, but like enough to feel like he should be with Jane at the end of all this.

"It's okay. We called PECO and they said it'd be back on in a couple of hours."

“It’s cool. We called PECO and they said it’d be back on in a couple of hours.”

However, who I am really going to focus my attention on here is Mia Wasikowska, who I’ve never been too impressed with in the past, but I will say one thing: She chooses some great material to work with and continues to really stretch herself. Here, as Jane Eyre, she gets the chance to sink her teeth into a woman that doesn’t just stand-up for herself every step of the way, but also makes sure that no man, woman, or child gets in her way of acceptance. What’s so rad about the character of Jane Eyre is that she gains respect and gratitude from those around here, not just by pretending to be as tough, or as cool as a man, but by using her smarts to out-do those around her. Because of this, we’re able to see that all of these others around here are either dumb, over-the-top or are so relaxed in their monotonous, peaceful lives, that they have no clue what to do when somebody comes around and shakes things up by shedding a little lip here and there.

So, to sum it up: Jane Eyre is a pretty awesome female character that I feel like any and all gals should definitely look up to and go by, regardless of whether it’s from the book or the numerous film-adaptations of it.

But like I was saying before, Mia Wasikowska does a phenomenal job as Jane Eyre, giving us a pretty kick-ass female character that doesn’t need to actually participate in the act of kicking ass to prove that she’s a toughie; she just acts like she always has and never lets anybody walk over her. Great job on Wasikowska’s part, but also Fukanaga’s for at least giving us a reason to love her presence, not just solely by her gorgeous/mysterious look. There’s actually development to her and for that, we appreciate her being around. As for everything else that Fukanaga does in this movie, it’s all fine. By the end though, it does get a bit twisty and turny, almost to the point of where it all feels over-stuffed, but overall, the guy keeps his head clear enough that we’re able to see why this story deserved to be brought-to-screen once again, with these talented-people and all.

Consensus: For those who shutter at the idea of Jane Eyre being adapted again, fear not, because what we have here is a well-acted, emotional and rather suspenseful-tale of forbidden love, class-conflicts and a hard-ass female character that mouths off to almost anybody, and everyone around her. But in a dignified, 19th Century, period piece kind of way.

8 / 10 = Matinee!!

Don't do it, honey! He just wants your mo-, erhm, never mind. Marry Mr. Money Bags already!

Don’t do it, honey! He just wants your mo-, erhm, never mind. Marry Mr. Money Bags already!

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)

This type of nonsense would never occur at a Motel 6! That’s for certain!

In 1968, a writer (Jude Law), staying at a beaten-up, run-down hotel called “the Grand Budapest Hotel” meets millionaire Zero Moustafa (F. Murray Abraham), who apparently has a lot to do with the history of this hotel – the same type of history not many people actually know the exact story to. Together, the two decide to meet-up, have dinner and allow for Moustafa to tell his story and why he is the way he is nowadays. The story goes a little something like this: Back in 1932, young Zero (Tony Revolori) was hired as a Lobby Boy at the hotel, where he eventually became concierge Gustave H.’s (Ralph Fiennes) second-hand-in-command. Gustave, for lack of a better term, is Zero’s role-model and he’s a pretty darn good one at that: Not only does he treat his guests with love, affection and respect, but he even gives them a little “something” more in private. And apparently, he treats one guest of his, Madame D. (Tilda Swinton), so well, that he’s apparently the owner of one of her prized-possessions, the same prized possession that her bratty son Dmitri (Adrien Brody) won’t let him have. But you can’t tell Gustave “no”, when he knows what is rightfully his, so therefore, he takes it, which leads onto all sorts of other crazy, wacky and sometimes deadly, hijinx.

So yeah, for the past week, I’ve been kicking ass and taking names with all of these Wes Anderson movies, and if there is one thing that I myself (as well as most of you) have learned about, is that I really do love his movies. I mean, yeah, I knew Wes Anderson has always been a favorite of mine, but what really surprised me with this past week is that not only have I been watching and taking note of how his style changes over time (or in some cases, doesn’t), but also, how he’s grown as a film maker and decided to get a whole lot more ambitious.

Did the elevator really have to be THAT red? You know what, never mind!

Okay, but on a serious note: Did the elevator really have to be THAT red? You know what, never mind!

And I don’t mean “ambitious” in the form that his movies are a whole lot bigger or more ensemble-driven, but more that they tackle on so many different-threads of meaning, rather than just being all about family-issues amongst a group of dysfunctional, troubled-characters. Don’t get me wrong, I usually love those said “family-issues”, but even I know when it’s time to move on, start trying something new and most of all, stretching yourself as a writer, director and overall creator.

Thankfully, not just for me, or you, or even Wes Anderson, but for all of us: Wes has finally shown us that he’s ready to take a swan-dive out of his comfort-zone and shock us with something that he’s almost never done before.

Key word being “almost”. More on that later, though.

First things first, I feel as if I am going to talk about any notable, positive aspect of this movie, it’s going to be the overall-style. Now, I think we’ve all known Anderson to be a bit of an eye-catcher with the way he has his flicks so colorful and bright, that you almost practically go blind because of them; but this, he truly has out-done himself. Since most of where this story takes place is made-up inside that creative little noggin of his, Anderson is practically given free-reign to just ran rampant with his imagination, where every set looks as if it was taken-out of an historic, field-trip brochure, dibbled and dabbled with some pretty colors, and thrown right behind everything that happens here. In some cases, that would usually take away from a film and be just another case of a director getting too “artsy fartsy”, but due to how crazy and rumpus most of this story is, it actually helps blend these characters in to their surroundings, as well as make this world we are watching seem like a believable one, even if they are so clearly made-up.

Which is why this is probably Anderson’s most exciting movie to-date. Of course though, Anderson’s other movies like Rushmore and even Bottle Rocket had an hectic-feel to them, but they were done so in a type of small, contained and dramatic-way – here, the movie is all about the vast, never ending canvas surrounding each and every one of these characters, and just how far it can be stretched-out for. So while those other movies of Anderson’s may have had a sense of adventure where a character would want to get out of the house, only to go running around in the streets, here, you have a bunch of characters who not only want to get out of their household, or wherever the hell they may be staying at, and get out there in the world where anything is possible. They could either go running, jogging, skiing, sight-seeing, train-riding, bicycle-hopping, parachuting, and etc. Anywhere they want to go, by any mode of transportation whatsoever, they are able to and it gives us this idea that we are not only inside the mind of Anderson and all of his play-things, but we are also stuck inside of his world, where joy and happiness is all around.

Though, there definitely are some dark elements to this story that do show up, in some awkward ways as well, the story never feels like it is too heavy on one aspect that could bring the whole movie crashing down. Instead, Anderson whisks, speeds through and jumps by everything, giving us the feeling that this is a ride that’s never going to end, nor do we want to end; we’re just too busy and pleased to be enjoying the scenery, as well as all of the fine, and nifty characters that happen to go along with it.

And with this ensemble, you couldn’t ask for anybody better! Ralph Fiennes isn’t just an interesting choice for the character of Gustave, but he’s also an interesting choice to play the lead in a Wes Anderson movie. We all know and love Fiennes for being able to class it up in anywhere he shows his charmingly handsome face, but the verdict is still out there on the guy as to whether or not he can actually be, well, “funny”. Sure, the dude was downright hilarious in In Bruges, but being that he had a dynamite-script to work with and was one out of three other main-characters, did the dude have much of a choice? Not really, but that’s besides the point!

What is the point, is that I was a little weary of Fiennes in a Wes Anderson movie, where most of the time, comedy and drama go side-by-side and would need all of the best talents to make that mixture look and feel cohesive. Thankfully, Fiennes not only proves that he’s able to make any kind of silly-dialogue the least bit “respectable”, but that he’s also able to switch his comedy-timing on and off, giving us a character we not only love and adore every time he’s up on the screen, but wish we saw more of. Because, without giving too much away, there are brief snippets of time where we don’t get to always be in the company of Gustave, and when those passages in time happen, they do take away from the movie.

No Luke?!?! Fine! I guess this chump'll do!

No Luke?!?! Fine! I guess this chump’ll do!

It isn’t that nobody else in this movie is capable enough of handling the screen all to themselves, but it’s so clear, early on, that Anderson clearly beholds this character as much as we do, and we can’t help but follow suit and wish to see him all of the time. Most of that’s because of Anderson’s witty and snappy dialogue that’s given to Fiennes to work with, but most of that is also because Fiennes is such a charismatic-presence that the fact of him actually making me, or anybody laugh, is enough to make you want to see a biopic made about him, and him alone.

But, like I was saying before, the rest of the ensemble is fine, it’s just that Fiennes was clearly meant to be the star of the show and plays it as such. Newcomer Tony Revolori feels like a perfect-fit for Anderson’s deadpan, sometimes outrageous brand of humor that’s practically winking at itself. What’s also worth praising a hell of a whole lot about Revolori is how he more than holds his own when he’s stacked-up against certain presences that aren’t just Fiennes (although the two make for a wonderful duo that they are another reason why it sucks whenever Gustave isn’t around). All of these other familiar faces that pop-up like Bill Murray, and Owen Wilson, and Saoirse Ronan, and even Jeff fuckin’ Goldblum are all great, but surprisingly, Revolori doesn’t get over-shadowed and keeps the heart and soul of the story clearly alongside with him, as it was intended to be. And yes, even though that heart may not be the most richest, most powerfully emotional we’ve ever seen Anderson bring to the screen before, it’s still the same kind of heart that has go along with Anderson on any ride he takes us, all because we know that, at the end, it’s all going to be totally worth it.

That, and also, that we’ll have something new to recommend to our white friends.

Consensus: The Grand Budapest Hotel is definitely Wes Anderson’s most ambitious work to-date, meaning that we get plenty of laughs, jumps, thrills, some chills, heart and enough familiar, talented-faces working with some wacky, but fun material from one of our finest writers/directors working today.

8 / 10 = Matinee!!

All in the 'stache, ladies. All in the 'stache.

All in the ‘stache, ladies. All in the ‘stache.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Bottle Rocket (1996)

Reminds me of the days that me and my buddies used to day-dream about robbing places. Then never would.

After a nervous breakdown, Anthony (Luke Wilson) “escapes” from a mental hospital and begins to hang with his best friend Dignan (Owen Wilson). They have a healthy relationship that has them planning for the future, however, they’re a bit of an odd-couple where Anthony is nice, sweet, and calmed-down, whereas Dignan is more crazy, daring, energetic, and always willing to pull of something dangerous. You know, like robbing a bookstore, which he and Anthony both do, before settling down in an hotel, out in the middle of nowhere. However, both run into the problem where one falls in love with the hotel maid, and the other just wants to find a way to get more money, and pull off more jobs, just so that he can fully live by his expectations he has set for living in the 21st Century. A lot easier said then done, however, especially when you have two different ego’s facing-off against one another.

This is one of those movies that I am, yes, reviewing again, but I feel like Bottle Rocket was in much need of a re-watch for a long while. Not only have I gotten a firmer grasp on what works in movies, and what doesn’t, but I’ve gotten way more used to Wes Anderson’s sense of style and why so many people love the hell out of it (mainly white people). And thank the heavens I did, because not only did I realize what a loser I was back in the day for giving this a “Rental“, but how much a boob I was for not even really paying attention to it because it wasn’t “like The Royal Tenebaums“.

Look at him! He practically wants to take a swan-dive right out of that car!

Look at him! He practically wants to swan-dive right out that car!

Obviously, nothing is! Jesus, I was such a dick back in those days.

Anyway, nothing here really separates this movie from the rest of Anderson’s catalog; the colors still pop-out at you with their quirkiness, the human-tension between characters is obviously felt, and the folky, ironic soundtrack cues up just about every five seconds Anderson gets tired of silence (and there’s also a choice track by the Rolling Stones in here as well, but did I even need to say that?). So yeah, nothing really different here that you haven’t seen Anderson do or explore before, and it surely won’t change your mind on what you think of him as a director. But it’s sort of a novelty watch considering that this was his first flick, his first shot at the big-times, since all of the stuff that he does here that would soon become trademarks of his, were so fresh and vibrant during this time. Also, he added a lot of snippy, snappy writing to create an original-spin on the heist genre; although, I do feel like a bit of a moron for referring to this as something in the “heist genre”, because it really isn’t.

Yeah, there are a couple of robberies done in the span of this movie’s run-time, but they’re more or less pushed to the back-burner, so that character-development and human-interaction can take center-stage and give us a reason to care, which is exactly what happens in this movie. There aren’t any “father-son issues” to be seen here like there are with most of Anderson’s work, but the characters are still interesting enough to pay attention to, especially because they seem like normal people. Sure, they have their quirks and their personalities that may be a little rambunctious, but I never really threw out a character here as being “over-the-top” or “too zany” for me to take in for all that they are. They’re colorful, that’s for sure, but they do have living, breathing pulses underneath their image, and I think that’s where Anderson’s skill in his screenplays shine the most. Not by how funny or unlikable he make his characters be, but just by who they are, and showing that with no strings attached.

That said, it sure as hell isn’t the guy’s best work, but coming from a first-time director, I didn’t expect that. Hell, the first time watching this, I didn’t expect anything except what some consider “his masterpiece”. That was my fault then, but now, I almost feel like I actually get what Anderson is all about and I see why he makes certain decisions in terms of writing and direction, that he does. Every scene has a reasoning for being in this movie, whether it be to build character, suspense, or full knowledge of what type of world we’re placed in, and it all works well. It’s not perfect, and you can definitely tell that some of Anderson’s low-budget problems do come into play and become very noticeable around the middle-act where we spend almost too much time at the hotel, but it’s nevertheless worth paying attention to, if not to just laugh, but to be a bit touched by as well.

And that’s exactly where Anderson’s characters come into this discussion. Though the cast is small and sparse, given the material, everybody does what they can with it and makes it all the more interesting and entertaining to watch. Luke Wilson has always been my favorite Wilson brother, mainly because he has that everyday, get-to-know-me-guy type of charm that works on me, as well as it probably works on the ladies he meets. There’s just something sweet and endearing about the way he handles himself and talks to the people around him, even if those said people around him are total dicks and don’t quite know it just yet.

Nice to see the jumpsuits still hold some relevance today in pop-culture. Obvious connection, I know.

Nice to see the jumpsuits still hold some relevance today in pop-culture. Obvious connection, I know.

The perfect example of one of those people is Owen Wilson as Dignan, the type of friend nobody wants to have, but sadly do. Owen Wilson hasn’t really been showing us much of himself that’s worth loving and caring about, but he’s very good here as Dignan because he acts like a total nut, yet also gets to the bottom of this character, making him more and more endearing in the process. Dignan always senses there is a time for adventure, even when there isn’t one. He tries to get a hair-cut because he feels like he needs to “lay low” after his robbery, and he takes almost any dire situation, to the utmost sincerity, almost to where you wonder if this guy’s joking around or not. Problem is, he never is joking around and always seems like he’s ready to jump-off a building at any given second.

Dignan’s the type of wired-up dude that nobody wants to be around, but we sadly can’t get away from, and Wilson plays him to perfection, not by being funny and dead-panning his ass off, but because he’s able to let us care for the dude, even when he’s obviously not-knowing of his own stupidity. We all know that he means well, and in a way, can’t help but root him on when the going actually does get going, and he needs to man up. The climactic scene where he does finally nut up and shut up, is probably the most memorable and fun, because we too, feel the same type of adventure and fun that Dignan longs for; the only scary part is that it’s real this time, and it could end very badly for him. Good start for Owen though. Wish he took more roles such as this, and actually challenged himself for once, rather than just hanging out with the same damn crew, each and every movie.

Also, nice cameo from James Caan. Can’t get enough of them in this lifetime, so might as well take advantage of them while you still can.

Consensus: While it’s nowhere near being Wes Anderson’s best piece of work, Bottle Rocket is still an effective flick for him to get his start with because it’s heartfelt, funny, a bit weird, a little quirky, and an all around entertaining watch, regardless of if you’re white or not. Mainly though, I’d suggest you be white, because us people, we love the hell out of Wes Anderson and his whimsy! Nearly as much as we love French movies with subtitles! That’s up for debate, though….

8 / 10 = Matinee!!

Oh! The "grown-man-on-small-bike" gag! Never gets old!

Oh! The “grown-man-on-small-bike” gag! Never gets old!

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBCollider

The Ice Harvest (2005)

When your town has more than two strip-clubs, you know you need to get outta there!

In the small city of Wichita, on the eve of Christmas, Charlie Arglist (John Cusack), a lawyer who makes a note of backing-up mobsters, has just seized $2.1 million from a mobster that employs him. However, Charlie can’t do all of this stealing on his own, so he includes Vic (Billy Bob Thornton), a guy who is more used to this type of stuff. The two originally planned on getting the money and high-tailing it right out of town, but there’s a huge snow-storm that hits them, making the roads nearly impossible to drive on. So, as befuddled as they may be, Charlie and Vic decide that it’s best if they just stick it out til the morning, lay low and make sure that the gangster whose been looking for both of them (Mike Starr), doesn’t actually get them, and everything will go according to plan. But, as we all know with these sort of heists stories, not everything works out so perfectly for everybody involved, and more often than not, ends with some blood being shed. Well, in this case, plenty of blood actually.

It’s a shame that Harold Ramis has left-us. No, not because there’s no longer any hope that he’ll show-up in the unnecessary Ghostbusters 3, but because he truly was a talent in front of, as well as behind the camera, that always seemed to know when it was right to hit our funny-bones, and when it wasn’t. Sure, most of us know that he made such comedic-classics like Caddyshack, Groundhog Day and even Analyze This (I guess it’s considered a “classic” in some circles), but know of us really know that he had a bit of a darker-edge to him as a director; the kind of edge not many of us got to see until later in his career.

"Yeah, fuck life."

“Yeah, fuck life.”

Some would even say, too late in his career, but I digress.

When looking at a plot like this, you can’t help but automatically think of Fargo, or any other Coen Brothers flick ever made, because that’s exactly what it is: A dark comedy about people being bad, in a small-town and having to make some deadly decisions to ensure their safety. Of course though, what usually is able to make or break these flicks is in its way of being able to balance out the heavy, dramatic elements of the violence, bloodshed and death, with all of the humor that can usually come from a movie when you have likable, colorful characters involved with said elements. Here, Ramis is clearly capable of handling both sides of the coin, as we get from an early impression, that the movie is going to be all about whether or not these guys can get out of this town with the money, and try to stay alive as well.

Instead, what we eventually get here is a story about a guy we can’t particularly like, nor can we particularly hate neither in the form of Charlie Arglist. Same could be said for just about everybody else in this flick – most notably, a drunken-friend of Charlie’s (played by the always-lovable and cheery Oliver Platt), who also just so happens to be married to his ex-wife. The guy may make an ass out of himself throughout the whole movie, but it’s an act that never gets old, which is mostly thanks to both Platt’s acting, as well as the script being able to give him more than just what is on the surface.

But I couldn’t help see this in just about every other character here, which allowed for the movie to be more than just a small-time caper-flick. It gave us people to care about, even if they weren’t particularly likable or morally perfect, and best of all, heightened the story’s emotions just a tad bit more. Even if all of the back-stabbing, twists, turns, surprise deaths and double-crosses became a bit tiresome by the end, I still gave a crap about what happened to most of these characters, besides not wholly showing us why I should feel this way. I guess I just did, and I guess that’s attributed to Ramis and his way of being able to juggle heart, humor, violence, sadness and character-development, all while rarely missing a beat. And even if some beats were missed (like in the last half-hour when a familiar-face shows up and is too cartoonish for their own good), they weren’t too noticeable that they distracted me from all that worked so well with this picture.

"They call me, "Daddy Long Legs". Know why?"

“They call me, “Daddy Long Legs”. Know why?”

Though I could keep on talking about Ramis and practically give him a “tribute” of sorts, what it really comes down to with this movie what makes it work is John Cusack in the lead-role as Charlie Arglist. Cusack’s not really stretching himself here by playing a cold-hearted criminal, with slight ounces of humanity, but he does so well with it that you don’t really care if you’ve seen him go at this sort of thing. You get an early-impression that Charlie isn’t a good guy, but you still see that he cares for those around him, he just has a bad way of showing it most of the time. But still, as much as we dig deep into who this person is, we still get the idea that Charlie really wants that money, but most of all, he wants to get it while being alive. When watching, you won’t be able to help feeling the same either.

Same sort of goes for Billy Bob Thornton’s character, Vic, although it’s clear early on, just by the casting of Thornton alone, that he’s not always up to being good all of the time. Still, when we do get to see him, he keeps on surprising us and makes us think just what his next move will be, and how he’s going to affect Charlie, or anybody else around him. Connie Nielsen is also here as the stripper that Charlie is practically head-over-heels for, and is playing it like an old-school, noir dame where she smokes, talks smack and is always showing some skin. Heck, her name is even Renata! Doesn’t get anymore old-school than that! Anyway, she’s hot-as-hell, but also shows that her character may have a whole lot up-to-her-sleeve, that isn’t for the greater-good of Charlie’s well-being, nor anybody else’s for that matter. She’s just exactly like a real woman, screwing-up every man’s life that just so happens to be in her path. What a devil.

Consensus: Gets a bit too loose by the end, but for the most part, the Ice Harvest is a little dark, a little funny, a little mean-spirited, a little dirty, a little smug, a little sweet and pretty damn surprising in the way it goes about telling its plot, and introducing to us characters that have layers. Wow. A comedy with meaning. Gosh, I’m gonna miss Harold Ramis. RIP bud.

8 / 10 = Matinee!!

You'd have that same mug if you lived in Witchita, too.

You’d have that same mug if you lived in Wichita.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBComingSoon.net

The Last Temptation of Christ (1988)

All that I take away is that Jesus, plain and simply, knew how to charm the ladies. That is all.

I don’t think that I’m jumping too far by assuming that just about all of us know the story of Jesus Christ, the son of God, right? Well, if you need some reminding because you skipped CCD or were like me, and just cheated your way through Theology class in high school, then here’s a short synopsis for ya: Here is the story of Jesus Christ (Willem Dafoe). He’s the son of the almighty God that only he, and few other loyal and dedicated followers believe in, however, daddy’s been on his nerves a bit as of late. Not only does God keep pushing his son to do things he doesn’t really want to do, like going out in the world, saving people’s lives and preaching the gospel, but he’s ruining practically any bit of social, or personal life the guy could, or would want to have. But, being that Jesus’ daddy is in fact, the almighty Lord himself, he decides that it’s best he listen, get out there in the world, start speaking his mind, letting people know what’s up and ruffle a few feathers, if at all possible. Jesus does in fact, do that, and pays the ultimate price for doing so. However, there’s a small twist here that dodges away from what the Gospel would have you believe as “truth”.

Because see: When you’re working with Marty Scorsese, you’re working with a guy who doesn’t play by the rules, no matter how set-in-stone or followed those rules may be.

You can't tell me you wouldn't want to hang with that guy!?!?

You can’t tell me you wouldn’t want to hang with that guy!?!?

But you got to chalk it up to Marty’s willingness to take something like this head-on, as controversial as it may have been. Sure, Marty was, is, and never will be a stranger to controversy, but taking on the story of Jesus, our savior, and making a movie about him where he not only is painted as a human, but even has “temptations”, is just downright blasphemous. Of course, not in my eyes though. Many heavy-duty Christians would have you believe that anything that differs from their script of Christ’s life is not only false, but downright evil and should be broken in two, before it causes any more damage to the fragile, God-worshiping minds of our youth.

As you can probably tell, I’m clearly not a huge believer in my faith, despite going to Catholic school for all 12 years of my general-education, but that’s not what matters here. What does matter here is that Marty Scorsese, a guy we all know and love for painting some harsh, violent and brutal pics about the rusty, ragged streets of New York City, for one reason or another, decided it was his time to go in full-on “Christ mode” and start giving us the story of the Bible. Although, as he notes early-on, Marty does not adapt this story from the Gospel so many Christians hold so near and dear to their hearts; rather, Marty adapts the novel that this is based-off of and gives us what some might definitely say is a “humane-approach” to the story of Jesus Christ, and what we may have known him as.

Sure, this is downright despicable in the eyes of the Christians to paint Jesus, our lord and savior as anything else as a man who was more than willing to do and listen to whatever his powerful daddy told him to do, but when you take into context what Scorsese is really doing with this well-known story and “character”, then you wonder why they bitched and complained at all. Surely they couldn’t have not watched a film and got pissed-off about it because the words “temptation” and “Christ” were featured in the same sentence, right?

I mean, they definitely had to have seen this movie, therefore justifying their angry thoughts and complaints about its material, right?

They wouldn’t just jump to conclusions and automatically think that the said “temptations” that the title was referring to was those of the known-prostitute Mary Magdalene, now would they?

Anyway, I think you all know what I’m doing here, and I promise you, I’ll stop my snarky ways sooner than later, but think about it: Had most of those Christians who were originally upset with this movie being made and released to the general-public, actually decided to shell-out some gold and give this movie a watch, they would have probably been happy, since it doesn’t do much to either offend them, nor tell them that they are wrong in their thought-process of believing that Jesus Christ, God and all of that stuff is real and did in fact happen (snarkiness hasn’t ended yet, sorry). Because what Scorsese does here, is that he shows us that Jesus, despite being pushed and pulled this way and that by his daddy and everybody else in his life, really just wanted to break free, live a life, get a job, have a family, tap some fine ladies’ behinds and be like everybody else around him, while also still maintaining his title as “The Son of Christ”. In all honesty, I don’t find anything wrong or even “sacrilegious” about that, do you?

And that’s exactly why Scorsese’s movie works as well as it does; it goes through the tale as old as time that we know of Jesus Christ, and gives us a chance to see just exactly who he was a person, rather than what he was, as a symbol for religion. And though it may have been extremely odd that somebody who is so attuned to gangsters getting their heads popped-off as Scorsese is, to do a movie about Jesus Christ, when looking into the subject-matter, it actually isn’t. Like most of Scorsese’s characters, Christ goes through problems like guilt, repression, evil confusion, temptation and coming to terms with his own identity, and just figuring out who the hell he is. It’s exactly what all of us feel as humans, on a day-to-day basis, and it’s what makes Jesus Christ, in here, seem like such a real person that we could have cracked a few cold ones and shot the shit with, and even dare to ask that girl at the end of the bar’s number.

Okay, maybe he’s not that cool, but he’s pretty damn human, dammit!

"You remind me of a man I once knew. His name was Ziggy, and he played guitar."

“You remind me of a man I once knew. His name was Ziggy, and he played guitar.”

But while the whole “humane-element” surrounding Jesus Christ and practically everybody else around him works for them in believing them as people, the performances don’t do much to help out. Which, yes, is a total surprise considering the amount of talent on-display here, however, I feel like it’s not entirely all their faults. What separates this flick from most of the same skin, is the use of its anachronistic dialogue, where just about everybody here, speaks and acts like you or I would today in the present-day. Yeah, it makes it easier for those to understand just who is saying what, for what reason and to whom, but it makes everybody here seem like they just showed-up for dress-rehearsal, went over some of their lines and had no idea that Marty would be rolling the camera as they spoke in their natural, modern-dialect. At first, it’s a bit weird, but after awhile, it becomes totally distracting.

Instead, what ultimately happens is that we mostly just see Willem Dafoe playing and dressing-up as a Jesus-like figure, although doing a very good job at doing so; Harvey Keitel who isn’t even hiding his New York accent as the ultimate betrayer of the big JC, Judas, who has more homoerotic undertones added to him than I ever caught notice of in Vacation Bible School; Harry Dean Stanton gets to be, as usual, lovely to see show-up as Saul, even though his character is barely given much, or any time to develop at all; and randomly, David Bowie shows up as Pontius Pilate, making Jesus feel like a huge, steaming pile of shit, while walking-off and, more than likely, continuing his large, extravagant party of sex, grapes and togas.

The only one out of this whole bunch that really seems to be on their A-game and totally attuned to what Scorsese has given her is Barbara Hershey, playing the very grimy, very sexual Mary Magdalene that Jesus takes a liking to, if only because he wants her to make her feel better about herself (yeah, right!). She seems to be the only one who finds a way to mix the modern-day sound of her voice, to the old way in which people would have talked back then, without ever seeming like she’s stretching too hard. Not that anybody else does either (or in the case of Keitel, not at all), but she actually felt like the only one who could have lived, breathed, banged and been around during that period.

At the end of the day though, I think where Scorsese really hits his mark with this feature is that he ends it all on a positive, uplifting note. I won’t dare spoil it here, but when you see it, you’ll wonder just exactly why those devoted Christians were so pissed in the first place.

Oh wait, I know why: Because they’re Christians! End of snarkiness, I swear!

Consensus: Though the idea of a movie devoted solely to Jesus Christ and his humane-like ways, may be a sore-spot for some more faith-based viewers out there, for the rest of us, the Last Temptation of Christ ends up being an honest, wonderful and insightful look at the life Jesus himself may have wanted to live, had he been real, or, had he been real, would have liked to do when his daddy wasn’t looking or pushing him.

8 / 10 = Matinee!!

The end. Or so we think......

The end. Or so we think……

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBCollider

About a Boy (2002)

Boys will be boys, even if they are stammering fools.

Will Freeman (Hugh Grant) is a bit of a shallow dude. For one, he closes himself off from the rest of the world, he doesn’t work, he gains all sorts of money off of the royalties for some Christmas song his dad made back in the day and shags plenty of women, although he never plans on, and never actually does, give them a call back or anything. Although, it may make you wonder: Why would somebody who is as charming as Will, actually conjure up a plan to act as if he is a single-daddy, only to connect with more single-mothers, in hopes that he’d be able to nab them as well? Either way though, it doesn’t matter because Will goes for it anyway and wouldn’t you know it? The results don’t go as planned. Not only does he not get nookie, but now he’s got some awkward, mopey teen named Marcus (Nicholas Hoult) who just won’t leave him alone. But little does he know that Marcus has a bit of a problem at home with his suicidal-mommy (Toni Collette) at home, as well as being picked on at school, and is only in need of a friend; something that Will himself may need as well. His only problem is that he doesn’t know it yet.

If anybody out there reading this right now as ever read a Nick Hornby novel, they know one thing about the dude: He knows how to write characters. Not just good characters or those easy-to-define types, nope, he’s more-attuned at writing about and characterizing those certain people in our lives we choose not to be around or associated with, and therefore, would not ever want to spend time with in a movie for a near-two hours.

Exactly how I treat my kids. So yeah, I can totally relate.

Exactly how I treat my kids. So yeah, I can relate.

You know, the unlikable people.

But somehow, Hornby makes these said “unlikable people” actually ones we can actually stand to be around, but even like and, dare I say it, connect with. Because see, Hornby may love it when his characters don’t do the best, most moral things to other people, but he never stops to show us why that said person, does that said immoral act. It actually gets us to grow closer to these characters, just as we’re watching the character themselves grow-up and begin to learn more about being a good, kind person in the world.

You know, like you’re supposed to be.

And with Will Freeman, Hornby truly did give us a d-bag that is not only hardly sympathetic, but pretty damn knowing about his mean ways as well. He knows that he’s lazy, a bum, a dick and a cad-like fella that loves a good shag every now and then, but never anything too severe to where he actually has to start up a relationship with anybody, where commitments, and feelings and all sorts of that icky, gooey stuff gets thrown into the mix. Will just isn’t programmed, but he’s not acting like he is, which sort of makes him interesting to watch. Sure, we know he loves lying to women, in the most manipulative-ways possible so that he can just bed them, but he never really tries to go for anything more than just a god’s-to-honest, simple fling and that’s all. All the ladies out there must hate him, but from one guy to another, I have to say, the guy is pretty damn cool.

That’s also the main reason why the casting of Hugh Grant in the lead role as Will Freeman was not only perfect, but nearly game-changing, in terms of Grant’s career as a head-liner. Grant’s always been the type of bumbling idiot that the dudes love to hate, and their girlfriends secretly want to be with, that’s never really stretched himself too much as an actor and instead, has just relied on two faces: Example A and B. Yes, those same faces have somehow been able to charm just about each and every women across the globe, but it hasn’t really earned him much respect or credit, in terms of just what it is that he’s capable of doing as an actor, and how he’s able to make it seem like he’s more than just another pretty face, who just so happens to have a relatively fine amount of skills as an actor.

But that all changed with Will Freeman, as Grant was not only able to show us that he’s able to be downright funny at times, but that he’s also able to do it while being a bit of a smug prick. You can tell that he’s like a man-child with a million-dollar smile and fine collection of all sorts music, but you can’t always hold it against him, because once Marcus walks into his life, times eventually do change for the guy and even though he does put up a fight against it for practically the whole time, he never does anything too reprehensible to where we totally abandon his character. Eventually too, he begins to realize that he needs Marcus, just as much as Marcus needs him and therefore, they build a lovely chemistry that not only improves over time, but begins to get more and more real, once actual relationships and friendships seem to get all caught up in the mix.

Fast-forward 11 years later, and this kid's slaying Katniss. Chew on that for awhile.

Fast-forward 11 years later, and this kid’s slaying Katniss. Chew on that for awhile.

Needless to say though, Grant is the sole reason why Freeman is the type of character who is worth watching, but also another main reason why this movie deserves to be seen. Makes me wish he did more nowadays, but I guess that whenever we get to see him show up in something, whether it’d be as 2,000 different characters in Cloud Atlas, then that’s fine too. Although, the same can’t be said for Nicholas Hoult who is not only making quite a splash as a leading-man of sorts himself, but is also making a splash into some noteworthy people’s beds, if you know what I mean? Anyway though, that doesn’t matter because Hoult still does a fine enough job here as Marcus to where he’s not non-stop annoying the whole time through. He’s definitely a needy-boy who practically pushes himself onto Will and into his life, but you can’t help but think you’d do the same thing, especially if you saw some middle-aged bum just wasting his life away on game show re-runs.

Together, they’re great and give this movie all the fine heart and soul it clearly needed to survive. Although, if I had to pick a problem I had with this movie, it was that the romance-angle Will had with Rachel Weisz’s character wasn’t all that well-written, or even developed really. Both of them clearly try, and having Rachel Weisz in a movie, is definitely better than NOT having Rachel Weisz in a movie, but it did make me wish her character was given more to work with. At least nearly as much as Toni Collette had to work with, but then again, that woman could make even M. Night Shyamalan’s dialogue work, and sound like Shakespeare, so I won’t even dare mess with her. Yikes!

Consensus: Without ever getting too sentimental or sappy, About a Boy clearly rides the fine line between dark comedy, heart and romance, while also giving Nicholas Hoult and Hugh Grant plenty of time and material to work on their chemistry together, and build a friendship that’s one of the better ones I’ve ever seen on the big screen.

8.5 / 10 = Matinee!!

Learned from the best, kid. Good job!

Learned from the best, kid. Good job! Just stay away from those hookers and you’ll be fine.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBComingSoon.net

The Armstrong Lie (2013)

Burning my Live Strong wrist-bands as we speak.

At first, when director Alex Gibney decided that he wanted to do a documentary on Lance Armstrong, it was to honor his legacy and hype-up his 2009 Tour de France comeback that came and went. However though, as time went on and more rocks began to get turned over, Gibney started to realize that there was maybe more to what Armstrong wasn’t just letting him on about, but also the rest of the world. See, Amstrong was being investigated on doping-charges (the same types of suspicions that have plagued his whole career), but it didn’t get nearly as bad up until Armstrong’s former teammate, Floyd Landis, came out and said that he was there throughout all of those times that Armstrong himself was doping-up left and right. This is when Gibney decided that instead of making a documentary praising Armstrong, that maybe it was time to focus in on just what was true about these allegations, and just what type of person Lance Armstrong, really is. The results, as expected, aren’t pretty.

I’m pretty sure I speak for everybody out there in the world when I say that I was pretty inspired by Lance Armstrong’s story, all before he went on Oprah and finally came clean. Not only was he able to make a sport like cycling actually seem “cool”, but he seemed to do it all for a cause to help others out there, raise awareness for those who need it the most, as well as give it his all, each and every race he partook in. Back in the day, Lance Armstrong was no joke and he was definitely the type of athlete just about every kid looked up to, regardless of if they had aspirations to play any sports whatsoever.

Even the professionals got to work with training-wheels sometimes.

Even the professionals got to work with training-wheels sometimes.

That’s why when you hear about someone like Lance Armstrong and how much of a dick he was, but a lying dick at that, you can’t help but think, “Why Lance? Why?!?!?” Because the truth is, Lance Armstrong stood for everything any moral, kind, humane person in this world wanted to stand for, but the one thing that he had going for himself was that he was a master at riding a bike and never seemed to lose. Whether or not all of those races he won were done on-the-sauce or not, doesn’t matter, because what matters is that he won, showed everybody out there that you can persevere in the face of danger, and most of all, you can be all that you want to be, just as long as you believed in yourself.

And this is why Alex Gibney’s-stance on this story works so well for this subject, because even though he is judging Armstrong for all of his wrong-doings, he’s also shining a light on the whole media-frenzy surrounding him. Because, if you think about it, the main reason why most of us loved Armstrong, was because the media kept their eyes on him and gave him all the fame, fortune and adoration one man could possibly need. We all fell in love with him because that’s what we’re practically shown everything we could ever imagine this man as being, with barely any cracks to be found whatsoever.

Sure, there were teenie, tiny whispers going around back in the day of how he may have been juicing, or how he may not have had that squeaky-clean image he prompted so firmly out there in the media, but none of us really wanted to believe it. We wanted to believe what it is that we saw, was exactly who Armstrong was, and therefore, we fell for the lie. We were all duped on this one, people! We were told that Armstrong was the most perfect human being ever created, and we practically stood-by it because, well, it’s what we were shown and told.

Now of course, I’m getting further and further away from the man himself, and more towards the media, but I definitely do think that aspect plays a huge-role in this story, much like Gibney thinks as well. He saw the type of man Armstrong was in front of the camera, which is why when he saw who the man was behind it, not only was he a bit taken aback, but he couldn’t help but find out if there was more to this. Was he actually a fraud that just used drugs to get ahead of the game? Or, as he always defended himself in saying, just the victim of what seemed to be a whole lot of jealousy going around in the world of sports? Obviously, we know now what question’s answer is “yes”, and what is “no”, but these are the types of questions that I bet Gibney had rolling around in his head the whole time during the filming of this movie and they translate perfectly to a movie that allows us to see Armstrong for all that he is – as a person, as a figure of the media, as an athlete, as an endorser, and most importantly, as a role model for all of those out there who need one.

And that’s what brings me to my main subject for the hour: Mr. Lance Armstrong himself.

Personally, I’ve never always been a fan of the guy. While I did hold a lot of respect for the guy when I was a lot younger, I grew-up to begin to realize that maybe he wasn’t all that he appeared to be. Now, I am not saying that I expected him to be using steroids this whole time, because quite frankly, I didn’t care. Some parts of me felt like he was a genuinely nice guy, and other parts of me felt like maybe he was just doing it all for show, in order to gain more popularity for himself or the sport he played in. Not saying that the causes he spoke-out for weren’t worthy or anything, but once you figure out that Armstrong himself did a little dirty-dealings on the side to protect his image as this lovely, wonderful peace-keeper, you have to wonder if he really did feel so strongly for these supposed-passions of his. Better yet, it also makes you question just who the hell he is: A nice guy, or a bad guy?

The same type of expression most husbands have whenever their wife stumbles in on them with another woman.

The same type of expression most husbands have whenever their wife stumbles in on them with another woman.

And I do mean to say that in a general, movie-sense where he’s a villain or a superhero; what I mean is that do we know if he truly is a good guy that cares for these people and these causes he backs-up in the public-media, or, is he just a show-boy who knows how to work the camera, work a statement and have enough muscle to make sure that nothing of his public-image gets skewered? Honestly, for me, I feel like it’s more of the later, but I came to that conclusion on my own, which is definitely want Gibney wants. For instance, every interview we ever get with Armstrong, whether it’d be in the past or present-day, we don’t hear Gibney telling us what to think. Instead, Gibney lets Armstrong speak for himself, in lying, cheating and stealing way. Of course Gibney probably doesn’t think the world of him, but it’s not like Gibney’s the one to make us think that – he gives us a subject, gives us his story and tells us why we should pay attention to each and everything the guy says, because you never know if you’ll miss-out on something he accidentally admits to or still feels wrongly about.

Nowadays, it seems like Armstrong’s career, for mostly everything, is over, said and done with. However, what we do have left is a story about a man who, at one point in his life, took the whole world by storm and made us all see him for what he was. Only to then to hit us right back in the face, make us feel betrayed, because what we saw, wasn’t actually the truth. It was Lance Armstrong, being Lance Armstrong, the inspiring, conquer-all-odds medal-winning cyclist; not Lance Armstrong, the human being that was pretty much a dick to everyone that he met or ever worked with, and didn’t play the sport he loved so much, fairly.

Consensus: There’s a lot here in this story that Alex Gibney decides to throw at us with the Armstrong Lie, but it also happens to make us humanize the main subject for the type of person he was in the media, against the type of person he was when the lights went on and the cameras stopped rolling.

8 / 10 = Matinee!!

"Okay, cool. After this, can you all get the fuck out? Thanks."

“Okay, cool. After this, can you all get the fuck out? Thanks.”

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBCollider

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